Emerging markets — in particular China, India, Russia and Brazil — are experiencing explosive economic growth and attracting attention from organizations in all industries. These countries are forcing global management, technology and outsourcing consulting company Accenture to globalize its core capabilities.
The company recognizes emerging markets are large in scale, and many have hyper-growth economies. While it continues to target geographic expansion toward mature markets, Accenture has an eye on potential in rising, high-growth markets. It is investing in differentiation and competitiveness by focusing on priority industries and initiatives. Because of these factors, India will soon surpass the United States in having the largest number of Accenture employees.
Members of Accenture’s capability development team — its learning department — believe industry expertise, geographic scope and having the best people will set the company apart from competitors. Therefore, the team works closely with the recruiting organization to analyze the quality of incoming hires and tailor on-boarding and development programs accordingly. Recruiting profiles are based on proficiency in technical competencies and demonstration of performance factors — behaviors that are consistently demonstrated by high performers.
“The main reason our learning strategy is effective is that it flows directly from our business and human capital strategies, building skills our people need to be relevant to our clients,” said Dan Bielenberg, director of capability development strategy for Accenture. “We have skilled learning professionals and a disciplined approach to determine our needs and priorities across our complex and global business, and apply the elements of our learning strategy in a way that meets their particular needs. By leveraging standard architectures across many areas, we are able to drive consistency, lower costs and focus our innovation on areas that haven’t been solved yet.”
To gather feedback on how the organization is aligning training to emerging markets’ needs, Accenture conducts a biannual business sponsor satisfaction survey. This survey gathers feedback from executive sponsors on capability development value and compares it against business leaders’ expectations. It assesses how the capability development team performs as a business partner, results delivered, the customer experience, what is done well and what could be done better.
Further, the company tracks employee engagement and global employee satisfaction survey results for training satisfaction in emerging markets. This allows the capability development team to track employees’ satisfaction with their supervisors and targets specific populations to improve supervisor skills through training and other performance management processes. The company is able to track delivery of supervisor training through Decision Support Center (DSC) data — a customized database that gathers and reports on metrics collected by the company’s learning management system and tracks course attendance, evaluation and financials — including throughput against targets for specific audiences. The capability development team gathers feedback through the DSC from nearly 40,000 front-line supervisors who have completed training.
Overall, Accenture has more than 400 capability specialization roadmaps to guide its employees in planning their learning across 25 industries, 70 functional areas and 110 technical areas.
“Our learning strategies focus on two key elements — existing employees and future employees,” said Rahul Varma, Accenture’s chief learning officer. “This means bringing phenomenal learning to our people around the world using a judicious mix of global and local classroom training, and increasing use of virtual delivery mechanisms, including mobile and video-based training. We are piloting new ideas, like a networked Classroom of the Future, which uses cutting-edge technology to simultaneously bring together live classrooms in a highly interactive international environment.”
The Classroom of the Future leverages research on how people learn to reconfigure the physical classroom space and enhance engagement and collaboration. Using a new layout and triangulated content screens, this classroom no longer has a “front of the room.” This encourages more collaboration, and mobile whiteboards promote flexibility. The smart whiteboard lets faculty annotate lessons, and all content is visible on any of the displays triangulated in the room. By layering technology into the design, the learning team can connect these classrooms, bringing together students and faculty from around the world for an inclusive learning experience.
“Purposeful innovation is an explicit part of our learning strategy, and we devote resources every year to identifying new, promising areas of innovation and new problems to solve,” Bielenberg said. “Purposeful means we are committed to finding innovations that solve real business problems, and we have a disciplined approach to managing our innovation that encourages a lot of creativity and focuses investment on the ideas that promise the best results.”