Innovation

Accenture’s Liquid Studio accelerates innovation in Singapore

18 August 2017 by Lance Ng

An aerial drone photographs a plantation three times the size of Singapore in Indonesia and transmits the pictures back to a computer for analysis on potential problem areas. This has replaced human surveys and reduced the time required for such work from 4 days to less than 5 minutes.

A visitor to the National Gallery Singapore uses a customised explorer app to create his own personalised tour. More than 600 Bluetooth beacons within the huge compound detect and connect to his smartphone in real-time as he walks around using the app to navigate. Information on the art pieces and the heritage building around him are automatically fed to him in audio and visual formats.

Both these cutting-edge solutions were developed by Accenture and are examples of how the company uses its innovation-led approach – embodied by the Accenture Innovation Architecture – to solve business challenges. The Accenture Liquid Studio in Singapore, launched here in March 2017 and the first in Asia, is a key aspect of this innovation architecture. 

End to end innovation architecture

The Accenture Innovation Architecture encompasses the company’s entire innovation process, from research and an investment venture arm to R&D labs, and from liquid and digital studios to innovation and delivery centres. 

Credit: Accenture

Sam Liew, Managing Director for Accenture Technology in ASEAN, said, “This Innovation Architecture enables us to stay ahead of the curve so that we can help our clients identify, build and deploy the latest technology to increase productivity and competitiveness.”

The Liquid Studio in Singapore is one of nearly 20 that Accenture has set up across its global locations to help clients rapidly take their innovation concepts from ideation to development. Using the latest methodologies and tools for application development, Accenture’s Liquid Studio can reduce the time required to build and test an idea from months to just days.

Beyond big corporations, Accenture’s team also actively collaborates with start-ups and accelerators, government agencies, technology partners and institutes of higher learning to infuse the best emerging innovations into their existing capabilities.

“Accenture Ventures invests selectively in growth stage companies. We have been able to deploy some of these investees’ technologies as actual use cases for our clients,” Sam said.

Broad spectrum of capabilities

At the Singapore Liquid Studio, a 2,700 square-feet demo area showcases the latest technology that its team can tap into to realise innovators’ visions. The range of capabilities and ideas is impressive, cutting across the latest in hardware and software – artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality/augmented reality (AR/VR), internet of things (IoT) and blockchain technology, to name a few.

Clients can use prototyping and design thinking to creatively and quickly solve real-world problems. A walk through the studio demonstrates how the team modifies both software chatbots and actual, physical robots to perform specific actions and tasks for customer relationship management use cases. The facility also includes safety and security installations using the latest in image recognition technology for identity verification, movement tracking and safety gear checks.

One highlight is the team’s application of blockchain technology to a logistics scenario. The Liquid Studio developed a demo solution where a mining company can use a blockchain solution to tag and track every single truckload from quarry to final delivery to prevent theft and fraud. This solution can potentially help to substantially reduce pilferage losses in mines, especially those found in developing countries.

Blockchain technology is usually associated with the finance industry, where its use is being widely tested. With this demo piece, Liquid Studio demonstrates its ability to leverage Accenture’s experience in servicing a wide range of industries to fully exploit the possibilities of new technology.  

Choosing Singapore as a hub for innovation

The Singapore Liquid Studio is the first that Accenture set up in Asia. The choice of location within the region was easy to make for Accenture. Singapore is home to multinationals from all over world, local enterprises of various sizes, as well as private and publicly funded research labs. It also has a vibrant start-up and venture capital scene.

“Singapore is one of the few places in the world where you can physically gather various stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem together to discuss and collaborate on projects easily and quickly. The government’s strong support, coupled with the country’s strategic location, has convinced many companies to use Singapore as a base to develop and market solutions across the region. For example, Accenture Singapore is working with Yitu, a company from China, to develop its face recognition security solutions for the regional market,” Sam explained.

Singapore’s government also launched a Smart Nation drive in November 2014 to make the entire country ‘future ready’. Under this drive, various funding, tax incentives and training schemes have been launched to help the local technology ecosystem grow.

One of these training schemes is the ‘SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme’, a one-year apprenticeship programme for fresh graduates from local polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Accenture’s Liquid Studio team includes candidates from this programme. They will be trained and deployed to client projects as part of the company’s commitment to expanding the local talent pool.

Sam concluded that, “Singapore is well poised to become a regional hub for the development of Industry 4.0 solutions in Asia. Accenture is excited to be a part of this ecosystem and committed to expanding the range of solutions being developed in Singapore.”

Edited by Kritika Srinivasan and Marisa Low