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The digital revolution has exposed abundant value opportunities for companies to raise efficiency and develop new kinds of products, services, and business models. Accenture is the engine to help transform businesses and leverage the new technologies that are disrupting the industry as we know it. Only by building strong innovation capabilities, can companies successfully make the wise pivot and manage disruption. Xavier Anglada is the Strategy & Consulting lead for Accenture in the MENA region, and is leading his team in harnessing the power of innovation and disruption in the digital era. Telecom Review sat down with Anglada to explore how disruption is playing out in the Middle East, and how companies can leverage new digital technologies to power through their digital transformation journey.

What does innovation mean to Accenture?

For Accenture, innovation is the recipe for success and survival in the industry. Digital technologies have dramatically transformed the way businesses and organizations interact with their customers. The combination of technologies, analytics with cloud, or with AI and so on, creates a huge impact on the traditional way we interact. Through innovation, we believe that companies can reimagine the services they need to offer. There is a need to test new services, products and business models in an efficient and cost effective way. Companies will then need to scale up to present the new core business.

We are seeing a very big disconnect between the true innovators and the laggards. That is why we have launched The Accenture Innovation Maturity Index, which basically assesses, especially in the travel and tourism sector, the elements that differentiate the disruptors from those who have been disrupted. This can be seen in profits, and their lead in the market. Over 50% of the largest corporations in the world in the early 2000s are no longer in business. This is not by chance. It is because they were not quick enough to adapt to change. Too often, while disruptors rack up rapid growth and enjoy large profit margins, incumbents are left behind. This does not have to happen. A small group of outstanding players across industries and economies has shown that large incumbents can innovate, release trapped value, compete with disruptors and even act as one. These companies are executing what we call a “wise pivot”—a way to reinvent themselves and harness the power of disruption. They are using data, digital tools, and new ways of working to optimize and grow the core business, even as they build a future business.

We are helping all our clients, be it public or private, to adopt innovation in all dimensions; culture, mindset, teams, and the network of interactions with all other companies and organizations. We carry out innovation factories with them to future proof their ideas. This is because innovation is not something that comes about once or with one small idea, it is a very structured process by which you bring forward multitude of ideas, filter them and select the few that can be scaled.

When we talk about innovation, it’s the whole journey. First the ideation, then testing and then, of course, scaling. For us, innovation itself doesn’t deliver much until it truly scales up. Very often, companies invest in innovation because they want to deliver a service. However, it will be unsuccessful if they do not know how to scale. The approach you need is to test many of your ideas, figure out what your idea of a service or product is, and try to scale them. Most of them will not scale, and that is why I mentioned the company culture. You need to be open to failure. If you don’t fail, you didn’t try hard enough. You need to put the limits of your innovation up to failure, take a step back, scale, and then bring it to the core of your business. All the major companies have disrupted themselves, and thereby disrupted the entire market. This is our vision and I think this country has the ambition for that.

Can you tell us more about the Accenture Tourism Innovation Hub?

We have the pleasure and privilege to launch our very own ‘Tourism Innovation Hub.’ We are launching this because the GCC region is experiencing a unique moment, with a lot of mega-announcements, mega-sites, and mega-events taking place this year. We want to be open to the market. The number of international travelers brings about the demand and the investment from other countries. The vision of countries with economic diversification is absolutely critical, so the idea is how we can turn tourism into an engine of growth for the region, diversified for the economy.

The GCC is the fourth largest region in the world in terms of tourism, and the potential is much bigger. The upcoming projects and events will create much more demand. The tourism innovation hub is basically a physical space where we showcase some of our latest innovations, focused around a particular theme or topic. The innovation hub demonstrates our company’s innovative culture, by co-creating with our clients, our business, our partners and disruptors to help them pivot into the New. Together, we can create this new experience that will make the Middle East the number one tourist destination in the world.

This region addresses the absolute core of our vision. We are blessed to experience leadership in the countries that are thinking long-term in relation to digital transformation. There has been a lot of guidance and direction to develop digitally. The UAE, Saudi and other GCC countries have displayed leadership in innovation, sharing their visions and other transformation initiatives, bringing tourism to the core. This is a key pillar of digital transformation.

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