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Out with the old, in with the new – Accenture declares AI is 'mature and delivers value'

Plans to bulk brainbox workforce by 40,000, months after ejecting 19,000 accountants and HR types

Tech consulting giant Accenture will invest $3 billion over three years to grow its AI workforce to 80,000 people after it axed 19,000 jobs in March this year.

Chair and CEO Julie Sweet wrote in a Tuesday announcement that the investment is needed because "Companies that build a strong foundation of AI by adopting and scaling it now, where the technology is mature and delivers clear value, will be better positioned."

Sweet's declaration of AI as "mature" comes less than a year after the public debut of generative AI services like ChatGPT, and despite such tools regularly producing inaccurate output. The CEO's declaration was also made at a time when copyright and ethical issues around AI are utterly unresolved, and governments are proposing regulation for the tech.

Accenture nonetheless thinks the time is now to double the headcount for its Data & AI unit.

"There is unprecedented interest in all areas of AI, and the substantial investment we are making in our Data & AI practice will help our clients move from interest to action to value, and in a responsible way with clear business cases," Sweet wrote.

Accenture also touted its AI Navigator for Enterprise platform – a tool designed to help clients figure out how to use generative AI tools in their products and services, and understand what models are most effective for their applications. Meanwhile, the colossal consultancy's Center for Advanced AI will conduct research and development to invest in technological capabilities within its own organization, as well as others. 

The heir to the Andersen Consulting empire plans to create AI accelerator programs for 19 industries that will make use of off-the-shelf models.

"Over the next decade, AI will be a mega-trend, transforming industries, companies, and the way we live and work, as generative AI transforms 40 percent of all working hours," Paul Daugherty, group chief executive, Accenture Technology, predicted in a statement. 

"Our expanded Data & AI practice brings together the full power and breadth of Accenture in creating industry-specific solutions that will help our clients harness AI's full potential to reshape their strategy, technology, and ways of working, driving innovation and value responsibly and faster than ever before."

The Data & AI team is expected to double to 80,000 people – which amounts to a little over 10 percent of Accenture's total workforce, given it says it has 738,000 staff working in over 120 countries. The decision to expand comes just three months after the corporation slashed 19,000 jobs in a round of layoffs that mostly affected staff working in HR, finance, and legal. ®

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