The Top 25: Michael Redding, Accenture Ventures
Michael Redding has spent nearly three decades at professional services firm Accenture’s US-based office in California. In early 2015, he was appointed managing director of Accenture Ventures, firm Accenture’s corporate venturing vehicle, to oversee strategic investments for the consulting firm.
When Redding and his Accenture Ventures team bring clients and startups together, reimagining and innovation are key drivers for transformation. This past year, Accenture Ventures went through one of its own transformations designed to make it even more impactful in the market and for its clients.
“It was a significant year of reinvention and elevation for us,” Redding said. An expanded team with additional capabilities reaching across the globe and a new digital platform that supercharges users are the pillars of the new Accenture Ventures.
Redding added: “Accenture Ventures teams with and invests in companies that create or apply innovative enterprise technologies. These type of investments and partnerships enable us to co-innovate with our clients by matching their business opportunities with emerging technology startups to unlock their transformation potential and catalyse their growth.”
When launched in 2015, Accenture Ventures focused on establishing a strategic minority investment program that makes targeted equity investments in technology startups providing products and platforms to Accenture’s G2000 enterprise clients.
The goal of the investments was to catalyse organic services revenue growth for Accenture through the creation of innovative solutions from the cross-pollination of ideas from disruptive startups and clients. Critical to Redding’s success was finding those startups that unlocked business transformation in such domains as applied intelligence, security, blockchain, extended reality and cloud – SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), IaaS (infrastructure as a service).
Redding and his team at Accenture Ventures developed a strong, repeatable process with robust governance to initiate and execute the investment transactions. Earlier investments aligned to Accenture’s business included Vlocity with Salesforce Ventures, Apigee, which was later acquired by Google, and Docker.
Over time, it became clear, that a small core team, while efficient and effective, was not sufficient to meet the opportunity presented by the expansive Accenture global client base and the emergence of startup ecosystems around the world, not just in traditional “hot spots” like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv. Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology and innovation officer said, “I challenged Mike to define ‘Accenture Ventures 2.0’ in order to elevate the materiality of the impact Accenture Ventures was having on Accenture’s client success and culture of innovation at scale.”
To reinvent, reimagine, and elevate Accenture Ventures, Redding combined the existing investment team, which includes GCV 2019 Rising Star Pramila Mullan, with a larger “open innovation” program. The open innovation program had been previously established to act as a “bridge-maker” between startups, accelerators, and VCs with innovation programs at Accenture’s enterprise clients. By combining the two, he established an unparalleled corporate strategic capability that he likes to describe as a systematic program of “local heroes, global champions”.
As Redding describes it: “Innovation is risky. When an Accenture client is prepared to ‘go out on a limb’ to try a disruptive new idea in order to unlock new potential via a transformation, they want to find ways to mitigate some of the risk associated with using early-stage technologies and implementing the related organisational change needed. There is a greater comfort level when people can build trust in one another and collaborate to get it done.”
On top of that, added Redding, these executives are stewards of the communities in which they work and live and want to both contribute to a thriving local economy while also building internal and external talent pools to support their future staffing needs. By having a local, in-market, Accenture Ventures team, Accenture can facilitate this virtuous local loop while still being able to draw from the best in the world from the global Accenture Ventures’ network. So, Accenture Ventures facilitates its clients’ digital transformations with the best “local heroes” while having full access to “global champions.
To achieve this, Redding rapidly expanded this framework of local Accenture Ventures teams so that there is now an Accenture Ventures team or representative in over 40 countries including multiple cities in major geographies such as the US, India, and China. This gives Accenture unprecedented “street level” visibility to the emerging startup scenes ranging from Sao Paulo to Dublin, to Bangalore and even Latvia. He also added the first permanent Accenture Ventures team in China and made Accenture’s first investment in China, Malong – an artificial intelligence (AI) startup in Shenzhen.
One way they leverage this street-level view to help clients is by hosting innovation competitions. For example, more than 1,000 startups from around the world participated in the third annual Accenture Healthtech Innovation Challenge. Accenture brought together promising digital health startups with life science companies and healthcare organisations to demonstrate their innovative technology solutions designed to improve the way people access and manage healthcare. Ayasdi was named the 2019 challenge champion for their clinical variation management application which uses machine intelligence to identify the optimal way to conduct surgical and nonsurgical procedures.
To facilitate a truly effective global network, Redding also oversaw the launch of a new digital platform, the Accenture Partner Innovation eXchange (APIX). All 469,000-plus Accenture employees have full access to APIX to enable them to search, discover, review, and promote startups relevant to Accenture and their clients. Loaded with 385,000-plus external records, over 6,900 have been updated with insights from Accenture employees around the world leading to 1,000-plus meaningful interactions between Accenture, our clients, and startups.
While the new Accenture Ventures brings expanded capability, it continues to make strategic investments. Some recent notable examples include Upskill, enterprise software for augmented reality devices in industrial settings; Ripjar, AI for national and cybersecurity; Akumina, modern employee portals, with Avanade; and Quantexa, AI for financial crimes.
Accenture Ventures also invested in and formed an alliance with P97 Networks, a provider of secure cloud-based mobile commerce and digital marketing solutions for the convenience retail, fuel and vehicle-manufacturing industries.
Redding said: “We were introduced to this opportunity at a past GCVI Summit event in Monterey and have been collaborating on several initiatives including consumer experience, in-vehicle payments and other digital marketing solutions.”
Underlying much of Accenture Ventures’ focus is a commitment to innovation. In fact, Accenture Ventures operates under a framework called the Accenture Innovation Architecture, which uses an innovation-led approach to help clients develop and deliver disruptive innovations, and to scale them faster. From research, ventures and labs to studios, innovation centres and delivery centres, Accenture helps companies imagine the future and bring it to life.
According to Paul Daugherty: “Mike’s integration of Accenture Ventures into a global network with a digital platform has acted as a force multiplier and underpinned Accenture Ventures strategic importance as a pillar of Accenture’s Innovation Architecture.”