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By Chris Ehrlich

NEW YORK — At any moment, 70,000 global employees are working on the cloud in Accenture’s Cloud First group.

Accenture is investing $3 billion over three years in the multi-service group, starting last fall, to help clients across all industries become cloud-first businesses and accelerate their digital transformation.

Accenture’s Cloud First group is designed to harness the “full power and breadth” of the firm’s industry and technology capabilities, ecosystem partnerships, commitment to upskilling clients’ employees and responsible business approach, according to the firm.

The group’s “singular focus” is enabling organizations to achieve “greater value for all stakeholders at this critical time” by moving to the cloud.

“Accenture Cloud First and our substantial investment demonstrate our commitment to delivering greater value to our clients when they need it most,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s CEO. “Digital transformation requires cloud at scale, and post-COVID leadership requires that every business become a cloud-first business.”

“COVID-19 has created a new inflection point that requires every company to dramatically accelerate the move to the cloud as a foundation for digital transformation to build the resilience, new experiences and products, trust, speed and structural cost reduction that the ongoing health, economic and societal crisis demands — and that a better future for all requires.”

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The cloud market

Accenture Cloud First was created as worldwide demand for cloud computing has “skyrocketed” due to COVID-19, the firm said.

The worldwide public cloud services market was expected to grow 6.3% over 2020 to $257.9 billion, up from $242.7 billion in 2019, according to Gartner.

The global cloud computing market is expected to grow to $832.1 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5%, according to Research and Markets.

“With most businesses currently at only about 20% in the cloud [in 2020], moving to 80% or more rapidly and cost effectively is a massive change that requires a bold new model,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture Technology’s group chief executive. “Accenture Cloud First, along with our $3 billion investment and our market-leading software-as-a-service capabilities in intelligent platform services, ensures that we provide our clients with value, speed and innovation in every part of their cloud journey.

“Cloud is the most disruptive and value-creating technology of our time — it is the foundation for the digital transformation that is driving profound changes in how businesses operate, compete and create value for all their stakeholders.”

Accenture’s Cloud First group

The Accenture Cloud First group is set up to integrate the firm’s wide-ranging cloud expertise:

• Cloud migration, infrastructure and application services and ecosystem partnerships

• Industry and cross-industry insights, data and applied intelligence

• Experience design skills

• Modernizing and operating large IT estates and business processes across departments at global companies

• Cloud change management

• Cloud-ready operating models

• Cloud talent development 

Accenture is using part of its $3 billion investment in the Cloud First group to advance several of its capabilities:

• Industry roadmaps, data models and solutions

• Cloud AI data and AI architectures

• Integrated full-stack infrastructure and applications

• Cloud tools, assets and automation to drive lower unit cost and innovation

• Research and development in edge computing and related cloud technologies

Accenture said that its cloud-ready operating models are committed to “responsible business by design”: security, data privacy, responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI), sustainability, ethics and compliance are built into cloud-based digital transformation.

“The acceleration to new levels of digital performance by companies requires a transformation of talent across the enterprise to achieve truly new ways of competing, operating and serving customers,” said Annette Rippert, Accenture Strategy and Consulting’s group chief executive.

“We believe that helping our clients purposefully build the core skills they need and quickly adopt new ways of working is essential to achieve value moving to the cloud. Accenture Cloud First brings our strong capabilities in driving change and developing talent not only for our clients, but also for Accenture.”

Beyond the Cloud First group, another 30,000 Accenture employees help clients build their organizations through the cloud and realize the cloud’s “business value.”


Accenture Cloud First is being led by Karthik Narain, who the firm called a veteran of the technology industry in the Silicon Valley.

Most recently, Narain served as the lead for Accenture Technology in North America, helping guide “Global 2000” brands in using the cloud and other technologies to transform their businesses.

Previously, Narain led technology services for Accenture’s Communications, Media and High Tech industry segments. 

Over his 20-year career, Accenture said Narain has led technology programs for clients across various industries, including software and financial services.

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