Accenture is the largest global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company in the world. While Accenture’s consultants are largely responsible for its success, arguments could be made that the company’s greatest asset is its knowledge database known as the Knowledge Exchange (KX).
Since the beginning, Accenture’s philosophy was to capture and document the key learnings from previous client work. In the early days this was accomplished through phone, fax and internal knowledge share meetings. Over time, as the company and amount of KX information grew, so did the complexity of archiving and utilizing the information. One manager said “there is so much out there that you don’t even know where to start.” Accenture quickly realized that there had to be a more efficient way for its employees to tap into each other’s expertise. Accenture knew, the more efficiently and effectively its employees could mine the information, the faster they could respond and deliver services/solutions for their clients.
This paper will analyze Accenture’s current KX system and draw out takeaways that can be used by other companies interested in implementing their own knowledge management systems.
Corporate Profile and SWOT
Business Global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. NYSE: CAN. Corporate FactsRevenue:$21.55 billion (USD) for fiscal 2010. Employees:~ 215,000 (including approximately 4,800 senior executives). Global reach:Offices and operations in more than 200 cities in 53 countries Geographical Regions:Americas
Asia Pacific,Europe / Middle East / Africa (EMEA)
Strategic OrientationTransnational Orientation. Though Accenture has a worldwide footprint, the services it provides (depending on the client) must be balanced between the needs of being locally relevant and gaining global efficiencies by linking and coordinating information from other locations. This drive towards global efficiency is a major factor in the investment of the company into its KX. In regards to value stream, Accenture is both well positioned in creating value/margin through its upstream activities (investment and continued use of its KX) and its downstream capabilities (expert consultants). Corporate StructureAccenture’s matrix structure is organized into client facing specialty areas called market units and support organizations called service lines. The global market units focus on client engagements and are tasked with meeting growth and profitability goals. As the business units of the firm, the global market units create most of the revenue, account for over seventy percent of employees, and accrue most of the firm’s costs. Supporting the market units are the service lines representing broad functional areas needed to support most client engagements.
Accenture’s “matrix” organizational structure assigns each of its employees to two bosses – one from the executive hierarchy and one from the functional hierarchy. •The executive hierarchy is there to get projects completed using the resources that the company has. This is the top most level at Accenture. •The functional hierarchy assures that every person in the organization is well-trained in an industry and is also measured by a boss who is the top-expert in the same field.
•Broad service offerings covering multiple industries.
•Successful company with a global presence.
•Inherent belief in relevancy of Knowledge Management (KM) and KX. •Historical success of KM at Accenture.
•Corporate support for KM from CEO to upper and mid level management to continue using and investing in KX to further enhance its capabilities.
•Lack of common tools, templates and technologies in the KM infrastructure. •Difficult to search, share and access information.
•Churn: Failure to capture knowledge as employees leave the company.