Accenture, SAP add Toronto innovation centre

There’s a large room on the 15th floor of a downtown Toronto office tower with five large screen monitors and green walls.

It’s symbolically appropriate, perhaps, because green is the colour of money.

And money is behind the room’s creation. It’s the Accenture Innovation Centre for SAP Solutions, which was officially opened Tuesday in Accenture’s offices.

Accenture, the international IT consulting and systems integration firm and a long-time SAP partner, has nine other centres in its offices around the world, including New York Chicago, Tokyo and Beijing.

The goal is to show customers the possibilities of leveraging SAP analytic, mobility, cloud and in-memory database technologies to solve business problems. To help them save and make money.

And, the partners admit, it’s also to help them make money as well.
(SAP Canada’s Aboud and Accenture Canada’s Ingram at the Innovation Centre opening. ITWC photo)

Accenture and SAP invite customers to 90-minute presentations on business problems organizations might face, and how solutions built around SAP products such as its HANA in-memory database, Sybase mobile platform or BusinessObjects analytics can help solve them.

The idea, says Wayne Ingram, Accenture Canada’s managing director of technology, is “to get the juices flowing.” That, he hopes will lead to a discussion about what could be done for the customer. If necessary, a video conference can be set up to bring in experts from other Accenture centres. Customers can even bring in data to run on SAP systems to get an idea if a solution will work.

The centres can offer 18 industry-specific solutions. If one isn’t right there are components that can be adopted to bring a custom solution to life faster.

“For SAP to show customers technology, it’s like ‘so what?’” says Mark Aboud, managing director of SAP Canada. “So we combine Accenture’s expertise with this interactive environment, and all of a sudden its ‘ Oh, that’s what it means to my business.’ It helps clients see clearly.”

Aboud put in another way: The centre is a place to come to show the latest technology “is not Star Wars and space age stuff. It’s real … Accenture is able to tie those customer interests and ideas back to actual technology that will make it work.”

The problem, Aboud said, is “customers aren’t seeing the new possibilities” of the newest technologies such as business analytics or mobile apps. “People in general are slow to adapt and don’t realize what the world could be.”

For example, he said, a retail chain may not realize it can see what’s going on 2,000 stores on one screen almost in real time.

“These technologies are becoming more sophisticated, but they’re hard to explain – the art of the possible,” said Ingram. “So what we’re trying to do is use real life examples of what they (customers) are struggling with.”

Accenture hopes the strategy will lead to contracts, and SAP hopes it will lead to sales of product.

The centre “accelerates the adoption of our technology by Accenture customers,” said Aboud.

Most of the organizations given presentations will be existing SAP and Accenture customers, Aboud said. “But what I want is for Accenture to be a vehicle to showcase our products to more customers. What Accenture gets is to bring customers in and show what the possibilities are.”

His definition of success is plain: “The bottom line is do we sell more software? This is going to give us reach to more customers, so if we get more customers looking at our technology through this centre, big win.”


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