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Q&A: Accenture's Brian McKillips Talks Deepening Google Cloud Partnership

Accenture is doubling down on its partnership with Google Cloud with a new business group that will deliver managed services.

Two years after Accenture and Google started working together to help bring enterprise solutions to the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), the companies have deepened their partnership. The companies describe the newly formed Accenture Google Cloud Business Group (AGBG) as a collaborative venture that will bring experts from both companies to bring vertical industry solutions and managed services that run on GCP.

The partnership, announced at last month’s Google Next conference in San Francisco, will initially focus on businesses in the retail, consumer packaged goods and health-care industries, with others to follow. AGCB will target those looking to use Google Cloud’s AI and machine-learning services, application modernization, marketing solutions and scaling SAP solutions. The service will also include migration to G Suite.

“They have more than a thousand practitioners trained on Google Cloud technologies in their roster, as well as a strong track record for helping companies add value by moving critical services and data to the cloud,” said Google Cloud corporate VP Kevin Ichhpurani, in a blog announcing the new venture. Accenture said it plans to double the number of Google Cloud practitioners next year.

The Google alliance lead at Accenture is senior technology executive Brian McKillips, who recently discussed the new partnership with Channel Futures. 

Channel Futures: How does this partnership build on the one you formed two years ago?

Brian McKillips: We had a domain-focused approach to taking our offerings to clients, specifically around Google technologies. What's different here is that we're offering our business-value propositions around five different areas. One is cloud for marketing and using the tools that Google is providing to open up insights from other parts of their business into the cloud, so that we can build customer-data platforms and insight solutions to address the CMO agenda. Secondly, is in the intelligent-solution space. We have an intelligent-agent offering to transform customer experiences, using the Google AI technologies to help drive the cost out of the call center and improve the customer experience. The third is in workforce productivity. anchored around the G Suite set of capabilities. Fourth is SAP on Google Cloud. This has been a big priority for Google; we are a longstanding partner with SAP and we have done lots of ... transformative workflows using SAP. And then lastly, it is really around the core IT agenda and cloud infrastructure apps and data.

Brian McKillips

CF: Accenture, of course, has similar partnerships with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. To the extent that customers are engaging in multicloud efforts, is your group working with those respective groups or are you just focusing on Google-specific cloud transformation initiatives?  

BM: Accenture at large has longstanding, strong relationships with other partners, and we have seen many kinds of thought leaders helping set the agenda of our clients around handing a multicloud approach. Each one of the partners is bringing a differentiated set of value to the client. I think that competition is important to continue to drive and accelerate innovation. And with Google, we're seeing that when clients are looking at the Google Cloud Platform, it usually isn’t the CIO; it’s really coming from the business units looking to transform their existing processes. Typically, they’re looking at the innovators as the disruptors, but they're also looking for a hyperscale partner that can drive technological change.

CF: It is said that many customers looking at Google and even Microsoft, compete with Amazon in their core business, so they want to move away from AWS. Are you seeing any of that?

BM: Absolutely. Specifically in the retail market, but more so with some of the announcements that they've been making in health care and in the life-sciences space. It does limit those clients’ ability to partner with Amazon, so there definitely is a movement, if they’re already an AWS client, to move away from them. But it also sets Google as a key strategic partner and not just an IT partner.

CF: What did you make of some of the AI machine-learning announcements and advances demonstrated at Google Next?

BM: There's no question that AI was the headline. I'm not an engineer, but the engineers I talked to said that the AI machine-learning technologies that Google has brought to market are best of class. AI is mysterious to many people, especially business leaders. We’re going through transformation that's not dissimilar to what we saw during the internet boom. And yes, there was a new technology that came back then that changed everything. But what was different then was that CEOs could wrap their head around what the internet could do. They could say, "I can do e-commerce. I can change my supply chain. I can change my marketing strategy." What's different about AI is it's not as intuitive. And I think especially with some of the developments around natural language processing and vision recognition that Google is making accessible, we will accelerate the adoption, and then allow their clients and our clients to implement it and expand use cases very quickly with these new technologies.

CF: Google appears to have invested heavily in its new Contact Center AI offering. Are they poised to disrupt the whole contact-center market?

BM: There are a number of players but we we've actually working with Verizon using Google technologies to change that because one of the obvious use cases is around the volume of calls and the expense around that. Google has already started down a path that is going to be a leader on it.

CF: The launch of Cisco Hybrid Cloud with Google Kubernetes Engine will bring the first on-premises GKE solution. What’s your take on that?  

BM: I think the Cisco announcement is unique in that it is very developer-focused. Some of the other hybrid offerings are focused on workloads that aren't ready to go into the cloud. And I think what's unique about that is around the Kubernetes engine, which will drive the ability to do rapid development both on prem and off prem. That’s super interesting. We also announced at Google Next together a service where we're providing a hybrid cloud offering where there's on-prem, cloud-adjacent hardware next to the Google cloud — and so you can you can have databases, legacy workloads that aren't ready to run in the cloud as instances, or there are security concerns. 

CF: Do you see more customers going that route, or do you see some actually wanting to put some of this in their own locations?

BM: Most of the clients that I talk to are ready to get out of the data-center business. The more they can give away, the better. The colo opportunity, with us providing the managed service, is a very attractive fit. 

CF: What is the status of that? Is that service up and running now or are you just announcing a plan to build that out?

BM: It’s under development right now and will be ready in the next few months. 

CF: Have you seen more interest in Chromebooks and G Suite?

BM: Our observation is that many organizations are doubling down on G Suite in the enterprise. There’s a whole generation of people that are now entering the workforce who grew up with G Suite, with Chromebooks, with basically kind of a cloud-native work experience. I think they've got a great opportunity to continue to build that business across all of those areas in order to capture that market enterprise as the workforce ages.

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