A new Accelerator Lab by Accenture

A revolutionised Accelerator Lab Helping corporates to work with innovative young companies to introduce innovations in the fast-changing retail field.

Nesta’s work with P&G in 2010, where Nesta acted as the confidential intermediary for half-a-dozen startups, was a door-opener into the field of Open Innovation.

The latest such opening is a dramatic evolution of Accenture’s Fintech Lab Accelerator, where a dozen banks each provided a chaperone whose role was to help the half-a-dozen young ventures that had been brought together at Level39, to introduce their products to the relevant managers in these banks.

Where the banks faced major threats arising from new ways in which financial transactions could be made, the retail trade and brands are fighting a rearguard action to counter Amazon’s lead in online retailing; and they are doing this by majoring on

  • individualisation,
  • sophistication and
  • personalisation

In Accenture’s latest version of the Accelerator Lab, launched with a razzmattaz of a major conference on the future of retailing, complete with a store of the future, innovative businesses had been invited to enter a competition, whose winners and runners-up were then offered eight weeks together at The Trampery co-working space in Shoreditch; and the dozen major retailers (Argos, Sainsbury’s, Kingfisher, Specsavers, Dixons/Carphone – among others) who participated in the programme were invited to presentations and discussions with them over the period of their residency.

Millenial 2020 (millenial20-20.com)is a process created by Accenture for corporates in retail. It kicked off with a two-day conference – a grand gathering of over 3,000 startups, brands, retailers, and corporates encompassing four industry sectors, at which Accenture set up a store of the future, entitled The World of ME: Millenial Expectations: an inspiration playground for the consumer experience and store playground of the near future’, ‘an immersive experience that brings together a curated selection of start-ups and brands to explore millennial-driven products and services expected to influence the retail and consumer landscape of the near future.

 Will the store no longer be solely a place to purchase things, but a port of call for expertise, unique brand stories, immersive experiences and even a place to learn, create products and connect with like-minded individuals?

Accenture had invited companies to pitch their ideas for innovation to judges from the twelve participating organisations for the Accenture Consumer Innovation Awards. 170 applied and sixteen were invited to pitch – in four categories:

  • Get me into the store and spending more
  • Get me what I want and when and where I want it
  • Make ME digital on the inside, and
  • Give ME omni-personalisation

 “Ignite your senses Using all five senses, play with products and innovations curated to illuminate future scenarios we see emerging. For example…

– Experience what on-demand personalisation could mean for jewellery by trying on and designing 3D printed pieces from WonderLuk.

– For the Conscious ME millennial, brand values that align with beliefs and identity will become a given. Touch and feel a textile made from citrus peel, brought to you by Orange Fiber, one of 5 winners of the H&M Conscious Foundation’s Global Change Award.

– Experiences will start to become the product. Swipe left or right to determine your preferences and find the right food pairing to match the craft beer you select, all powered by Accenture Customer Genome and Intel.

For Accenture this was an experiment in creating processes that would support major changes in sectors – disruptions or major challenges; and so both enhance and demonstrate to potential customers their armoury of processes in the consultancy business. It is being repeated later in the year in New York and in Singapore.

Corporates, including Barclays, John Lewis, Tesco, and most notably Telefonica, have gone down the path of running their own Accelerators despite disadvantages to the startups involved. In participating in group Accelerators, including in the insurance industry, the food industry, the healthcare industry and the New Cities initiative, startups have accepted the risks that openness involved.

More an opportunity for corporates and early-stage businesses to get thoroughly acquainted than to get engaged, Accenture’s innovative new ‘immersive’ process has played on their willingness to be open and transparent. Only time will tell whether it has facilitated the development of innovations into new products or services.

John Whatmore, July 2016

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