Accenture, a global professional services company in the IT sector, unveiled a series of exciting new e-commerce solutions at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona. It was in the area of IoT and 'connected devices' that Accenture excelled and garnered most attention. The IT services colossus outlined its plans to implement technologies in order to create what it describes as 'frictionless transactions'.
In one demonstration, Accenture representatives displayed an application which would enable a driver to be able to fill up his car with whatever fuel the particular model required, proceed to pay for the transaction, receive a receipt and avail of some instore offers and discounts without even getting out of his vehicle. The driver wouldn't have to communicate with onsite staff in order to facilitate all these tasks – all the driver would have to do is use the mobile application, or the application designated for the vehicle dashboard.
According to Managing Director of Accenture Digital, Richard Meszaros, who also heads Accenture's commerce team, the key focus from Accenture's point of view is enabling its clients to avail of the new 'innovation architecture' the company is providing - and to create new commerce models to provide services in an autonomous fashion.
"We're really focusing on a lot of the innovations that we work on with our clients in order to create our new Accenture innovation architecture," said Meszaros. "I lead our commerce tower, which is focused on enabling new commerce models within the world of Internet of Things. Some of the things we're focusing on at MWC include an IoT marketplace that allows devices to make purchases for consumer services in an autonomous manner."
In addition, the Accenture executive spoke of the company's vision for blockchain technology with a particular focus on its specific use for smart solutions such as contracts and other related devices which can be connected.
"We're also focusing on blockchain technology and specifically its use for smart contracts and the ability to use that capability to be able to automate a complex transaction across a broad ecosystem of partners, and this, along with our innovation architecture, is just two examples of some of the solutions we're showcasing here at Mobile World Congress."
When asked about how he viewed the impact IoT would have on businesses and organizations that adopt it, Meszaros was emphatic that not only would the area continue to expand rapidly but that it had the unique potential to allow companies to completely transform their business and redefine structures.
"Depending on the research you see, there will be anywhere between 30-50 billion devices by the end of this decade," he said. "What I think is really exciting is that these devices are becoming smart and contextually aware – which allows our clients with Accenture's help to reinvent their entire business models.
"It enables them to be able to take advantage of the unique capabilities of these devices and all of the data that is available to really define new ways to serve their customers, create new business opportunities, and ultimately address challenges in their business today, and that's the most exciting thing for us at Accenture."
IoT is a big topic that has transfixed the industry and research indicates it's about to get a lot, lot bigger in the forthcoming years. However, as more and more businesses embrace the technology; one issue that consistently arises is that of IoT security.
Can organizations protect their data from cybersecurity attacks when adopting IoT devices? Meszaros believes security is of "paramount importance" in relation to IoT for Accenture – but said it was important to find out firstly what data is on the device and establish whether or not the device actually needs access to it.
"Security has to be paramount when you think about IoT and how these devices will interact with these new ecosystems," said Meszaros. "I think the key area to think about is what data is on the device. We have to establish whether or not that device needs access to the data or if it can it be tokenized for instance to be able to facilitate the transaction."
In an e-commerce environment, no consumer would want to put a 16 digit credit card number into a refrigerator, Meszaros explained, but the ability to use a token that represents that payment credential and that fridge could initiate that transaction by using that token. "It's a great example of how the industry can use existing capabilities to be able to facilitate these new next generation commerce experiences."
These are exciting times for Accenture which indicated clearly at MWC that it will be vying to retain its position at the forefront of IoT technologies in the forthcoming years as mass adoption of IoT and the creation of connected applications, devices and platforms continue to expand at a rapid pace.
However, for now, according to Meszaros, Accenture's vision is to help its clients take advantage of the new IoT world and allow them to innovate and transform their business by using Accenture's solutions.
"What we're about is helping our clients take advantage of this new IoT world and to innovate in that area, so that's what is so exciting about the release of Accenture innovation architecture," said Meszaros.
"It allows us to work with our clients from concept all the way to rapid prototyping, to scaling these solutions all the way to an enterprise launch. That's primarily what we're focused on here at Mobile World Congress: how we can help our clients transform and innovate in their business using that architecture."