Daniela Rus, Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT
Executives for a major medical device manufacturing company arrived at the Accenture Innovation Hub in Boston at a crossroads. Would they pursue a technical upgrade for their upcoming SAP program, or focus on a value-driven business transformation?
That was the critical question as they walked into the two-day event, where they’d brought their big guns: key business leaders across finance, supply chain, order to cash, and procurement, as well as the CIO and the global controller.
Accenture’s client team knew the stakes and had designed a program to explore the various possible directions for SAP S/4HANA and its business, with a special addition: Accenture Luminary Daniela Rus.
Rus is the director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and one of eight Accenture Luminaries—esteemed, world-class academic thought leaders with wide recognition for their groundbreaking research in critical areas of technology-driven innovation.
Rus kicked off the first day of the workshop by asking the gathered executives to think beyond the decision at hand, to think broadly about the “art of possible.” During their time at the Accenture Innovation Hub, the medical device manufacturer group participated in several exercises to develop a North Star vision that could guide their company through a technology transformation.
As the participants worked through one of the exercises, discussions on the art of possible sparked their imaginations around the potential for the future: What sort of company could they envision, supported by digital technologies?
By the end of the workshop, the executives and their Accenture team had come together to create a common vision and campaign idea. They also identified the primary value drivers for the transformation and created a plan and operating model for the next phase. The remainder of the two days consisted of exercises to define the degree of business transformation required, define the value levers, and co-create the plan of action for an S/4HANA implementation.
“It is deeply rewarding to work with the Accenture team and their client companies to discuss what is possible for their future products and operations. These discussions are especially important and timely now, as companies need to understand the impact of machine learning and automation on business,” says Rus.
An expert in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, Rus focuses on developing the science and engineering of autonomy, with the long-term objective of enabling a future with machines pervasively integrated into the fabric of life, supporting people with physical tasks. For this innovation workshop, Rus brought a unique perspective to the discussion based on her work in cutting-edge opportunities for medical devices. She pulled back the curtain on a few projects within CSAIL, sharing methods and examples of new surgical technologies and noninvasive techniques being explored.
The executives were excited to learn about the new developments at MIT. They had no idea that this kind of innovation was taking place within their own industry, and they were inspired by how these types of new explorations might occur within their own organization. They used the rest of the two days to think more broadly about innovation within their company and how technology transformation might support a more groundbreaking organization. It provided a much larger context for their SAP directional decision.
The Accenture Luminaries program was created to bring together Accenture account teams and technology experts, esteemed academic thought leaders, and senior-level strategy-makers from client organizations in an environment tailor-made to jump-start the sort of innovation that could disrupt the established order of highly competitive industries. The Accenture Luminaries bring expertise in a long list of fields: design thinking, software design, security by design, robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, machine learning, future of workforce, the Internet of Things, automation, auto ID/radio-frequency ID, digital learning, gaming, health care, extended reality, design, marketing, emerging technology, leadership strategy, mobile systems, and sports technology.
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