Avinash Vashistha has been at the helm of Accenture in India for three years. Other than making itself more relevant to the country, the company says it is bringing global best practices here. In an interview with Bibhu Ranjan Mishra & Aditi Divekar, he talks about the digital platform. Edited excerpts:
Last year, you created a new growth platform called Digital. What was the need?
We believe all businesses are digital; you have cloud (for instance, in the reservation industry all booking has now moved to the cloud); analytics (every company is using data that they have on consumers, products to be able to have insights into their business); everything has become mobile.
Social networking is also important because it is not only about people's personal life anymore - how consumers tweet on things and what they put on Facebook is important because these have significant impact. Because it is a connected world, all these things have a significant interplay. Everything has to be integrated; you can't look at social media, mobility, cloud and analytics as different pieces. They have to co-exist in a platform. That is what we call digital and we are working towards helping our clients understand what digital is, helping them move to the digital world.
Why is there so much excitement around digital?
I think when previously we used to say digital, things were discrete. Today you go to a hotel and if you do not like something and writes a blog about it, it will have a significant impact on the business. Because the blog will be read by lots of people and maybe by people outside India. Now, the hotel might have nothing to monitor the social network and blogs; so they come to know six months later that something like this has happened. So, things were digital to an extent before but it is a new world of opportunities now.
How has the Indian market evolved for Accenture?
For Accenture, India is a long-term play. We are looking at our role not just as a vendor but at nation-building. We are involved in CSR (corporate social responsibility) activity - we are training people for employment. We are involved in e-districts where we tech-enable citizen services. We have done it significantly in the northeastern region. For child care, we have deployed a mobile system in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu that tracks pregnant mother and child up to five years. If India has to develop, we need to see inclusion of education, health and financial. Our focus is to see how we can play a significant role for this inclusion to happen. For us, government is a big customer in India. Large business conglomerates are a big customer base.
How is Accenture growing in India?
We had strong double-digit revenue growth last financial year.
Management consulting is a growth area for the company. How is the progress there?
In terms of the growth platform we have, Digital is something that spans across everything. It is not just about technology, management consulting or operations. For us, it is important to be able to understand the clients, listen to them and to be able to recommend them what they should do.
That's what we call Accenture Strategy - in fact the new name of that growth platform (management consulting) is Accenture Strategy. To me strategy is simple - you understand the clients, listen to them and try to help them build a strategy for their businesses. That's a unique position we have and that's what we would like to do. We have done that in India with a few clients already.
Is government a tough code to crack?
You can be assured all multinationals work very well with the government. Until recently, our government engagements were primarily consulting-led; now, we are engaging on technology. But we have more exposure to companies than government. Going ahead, too, corporate clients will remain a big portion of our focus area.