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  • Yann Lepant, Managing Director – Head of Data and AI Delivery For Europe, Accenture Technology

Yann Lepant, Managing Director – Head of Data and AI Delivery For Europe, Accenture Technology

Describe your career to date 

It has been a journey of learning through successes and failures, meeting some great people along the way and building a network of talented people to work with.

 

I fell into data way before it was a thing many people cared about. I started my career as a data architect, with a strong focus on integration of large transactional systems, before gradually moving over to the analytics world. Over the years, I cut my teeth on client focused technology strategies and full-cycle technology transformation, always staying close to the data and gradually building up my knowledge of end-to-end technology delivery.

 

Working at Accenture for over 20 years has enabled me to deepen my expertise of client concerns in multiple industries. I have always been a strong believer that to be a credible and trusted advisor, it is essential to have a rounded understanding of client imperatives and technology capability, as well as a strong delivery acumen.

 

One of my proudest achievements has been the creation of the Technology Analyst Group for Accenture, which has provided a differentiate home and career proposition for more than 500 technology graduates in the UK. This helped to bring a new level of talent and diversity into the firm and significantly bolstered engagement and energy within that community.

 

A few years ago, I saw the opportunity for Accenture to accelerate our capability in the data and artificial intelligence area and gradually built our expertise in its multiple disciplines (ie data engineering, data management, data architecture, visual and analytics, AI/ML, etc). Today, I help organisations transform to become “insight led” by helping them to modernise their technology capability, embed AI at the core of their operations and enable the business to take ownership of their data and insights. 

What key skills or attributes do you consider have contributed to your success in this role? 

This is a tough one. I would say that keeping calm and composed under pressure is definitely one of them. More seriously, I think that being curious is a key element. Keeping up to date with new technologies, current affairs, clients’ priorities, trends and strategies, etc, has enabled me to build credibility and relevance for our clients.

 

What level of data maturity do you typically encounter across your client base and what tends to hold this back? 

This varies greatly across our client base. While most companies have terabytes of data in existing data platforms, very few exploit it successfully or with control. 

 

The call to migrate existing platforms to the cloud is driven not only by scaling needs but by the imperative to consolidate and rationale data silos, transform to leverage new capabilities such as real-time processing and advanced ML models and give control to the business to consume, share and capitalise on value derived from data and insights.

 

Maturity levels depend greatly on what step our clients find themselves in this journey.

 

Key challenges they typically face are a) articulating the value of data as an asset; b) defining tactical as well as strategic use cases to optimise the flow of value release to their organisation; c) finding the right talent to deliver on their data strategy; d) rotating their organisations to change ways of working and become more data-driven.

What trends are you seeing in terms of the data and analytics resources your clients are demanding from you? 

I can see three key trends when it comes to demand of talent. Firstly, there is a need for deep senior data engineers as companies look at accelerating the delivery of their foundational and new data and AI capability on the cloud. Secondly, there is still a shortage of strong data engineers on the market and the war on talent continues. There is also an ask for resources who can help shape new, strategic and business-owned data products to accelerate the path towards value realisation. Finally, there is huge demand for data management SMEs who can help deliver on our clients’ strategy for data sharing and self-service capability whilst maintaining tight control on their data.

 

What challenges do you see for data in the year ahead that will have an impact on your clients and on the industry as a whole? 

The market is extremely active and new technologies appear almost every week, this certainly a very dynamic environment to work in… and it is accelerating. For instance, generative AI capability such as ChatGPT could prove to be very disruptive and force some organisations to rethink their data and analytics (and automation) strategy.

 

For our clients, the ability to execute at pace and at scale is typically the number one concern. Data modernisation programmes can be intrusive and time-consuming but businesses can’t wait years to see the benefits realised – particularly at a time when the need for business agility has never been greater. 

How are you developing the data literacy of a) your own organisation and b) your clients? 

In addition to the core curricula designed for our own data and AI team, we have a continuous programme to help the rest of our organisation develop their data literacy. We share a number of these approaches and solutions with our clients:

 

– We have developed our own data and AI certification programme with MIT, which encompasses different levels of experience and expertise. It has been rolled out globally and is open to everyone in the firm.

 

– We improve general data and AI quotient via online bite size informative videos, weekly brown bags and industry targeted webinars.

 

– We invite teams from across the firm to take part in our data studio, which has been set up to drive innovation, showcases and client strategy workshops in all data and AI areas.

 

– We actively recruit people with varied backgrounds, skills and experiences at all levels to create a diverse environment and we cultivate a culture of continuous sharing and learning between one another. This maximises cross-pollination within the group and within the firm.

 

– We embed data and AI champions in all our key company verticals to drive show-how and adoption.

 

How are you tackling the challenge of attracting, nurturing and retaining talent? 

Our approach to attract and retain talent is built upon the provision of a meaningful career proposition where individuals can see themselves developing and progressing through the echelons. Accenture is known for the size, complexity and variety of the work we undertake for our clients. This is part of the attraction. But it is also about the creation of a fun, varied, challenging and supportive environment, where people have the opportunity to try on different things and build a solid network of peers to work and socialise with.

Yann Lepant
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2022 (EMEA)
  • 100 Enablers 2023 (EMEA)