Accenture cloud lead: ‘Systems resilience is being tested like never before’

10 Jul 2020

Donal Óg McCarthy, Accenture. Image: © Shane O'Neill/Coalesce

Donal Óg McCarthy is a managing director in Accenture Technology and leads its cloud business.

With more than 20 years working in Ireland and around the world on many large technology change programmes, Donal Óg McCarthy has extensive experience in digital transformation.

Having worked in the public sector, healthcare, insurance and telecommunications, McCarthy has worked his way up from beginning his career in software engineering to his current role leading the cloud team at Accenture.

Tell me about your own role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

Technology advancements across the digital landscape are completely transforming how our clients do business; disrupting traditional business models and markets and creating new revenue opportunities. At Accenture, we embarked on our own migration to cloud several years ago and as a company with more than 509,000 employees around the world, we are 95pc in the public cloud.

As a leader in our technology business, I am focused on supporting our clients in realising the value cloud can bring to their business. For many organisations, this can be a complex challenge and my role in Accenture is to bring our experience in delivering cloud projects globally to our clients here in Ireland, supporting them on their own cloud journey.

Are you spearheading any major IT initiatives you can tell us about?

Over the past few months we have been very focused on helping our clients out-manoeuvre uncertainty by quickly supporting them in addressing the stability of critical business processes and underlying systems within their organisation. This has meant very different things for each client and we have used our breadth of capability and services within our teams to really make long-term transformational changes to these businesses in a very short time.

Many clients are seeing this current period as an opportunity to build the competencies they need to become more digital, data-driven and to leverage all of the opportunities presented by the cloud.

This transformation is being done in a much faster pace and we are leveraging cloud platforms such as Accenture’s myNav, which allows us to perform an accurate assessment of our client’s technology infrastructure, applications, data, operational model and business outcomes. We use these outcomes to identify the right cloud solution for them, then simulate it at scale. This ability to simulate and test the scaled-up model for our clients is something that is unique in the marketplace and really provides clarity to business and technology leaders on the impact cloud can have on their business.

Deploying these accelerators is key to ensuring that we build a strong business case for cloud that directly addresses the challenges our clients are seeing today and into the future.

How big is your team?

Accenture has been operating in Ireland for 50 years and employs 4,000 people. A large number of our people are delivering really innovative technology solutions for our clients across many different sectors every day. Many of these are cloud-focused and in those cases, we draw on the deep cloud experts from my team to support.

Globally, Accenture has worked on more than 30,000 cloud projects and we have more than 90,000 people trained in cloud technologies. As a company, we have seen the cloud market evolve and cloud services become the foundation for future innovation and operations of digital businesses.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

In the last few years, I think there has been a significant shift by enterprises from using digital transformation as a catch-all to just describe the delivery of online or digital services, to really looking at the entire organisation and the role cloud and other technologies can really have in driving innovation.

The questions being asked at board level right now, particularly of the CIO and CFO, are all about generating business value and being clear that investment, where it is happening, must deliver measurable positive outcomes for the entire enterprise.

Making the right technology choices in this ‘never normal’ continues to challenge many organisations with new products and services emerging every day. This rapidly changing landscape is requiring organisations to re-think their operations to focus on areas such as high automation, self-service, faster deployment of services and financial transparency.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

The biggest tech trends we are seeing, especially considering what has been going on in the world, is definitely a full migration to cloud for many businesses. What had in the past been piecemeal has now evolved to take in all the best that the cloud can provide.

Organisations are investing in the cloud to transform their businesses, become more flexible, increase speed to market of new products and services, gain competitive advantage and drive new revenue opportunities.

Overall, we have seen Covid-19 remove barriers to entry, really driving cloud adoption. Our clients are focused on not only addressing the immediate needs of their business in the context of the current pandemic but taking a longer-term view into the future landscape, leveraging the power of cloud to drive innovation and maximise value for their business. Now that traditional constraints have been removed through necessity, companies are very much focused on accelerating their cloud journey.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

Systems resilience, particularly when it comes to data, is being tested like never before. It is vital for organisations to make sure the basics of data-centric security are in place. It is not only the right thing to do, but also critical if organisations are serious about protecting their customer data and protecting their most important assets.

In today’s remote working environment, security should be the concern of all employees and not just an organisation’s leadership. The new working conditions shift information security focus from enterprise infrastructure to cloud and virtualised infrastructure. Employees will rely on home Wi-Fi routers and VPN connections to company infrastructure, where misconfigurations risk the leakage and theft of sensitive company information.

In a cloud context, there are of course many SaaS solutions available that our clients are using to help them protect their data, their employees and their customers. Developing a clear cybersecurity strategy is critical in ensuring that enterprises continue to keep their assets protected both on premise and in the cloud.

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