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Why Accenture thinks the ‘Henry Ford moment of the digital era’ is coming

September 17, 2020, 11:01 AM UTC

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Good morning.

I’ve written before about the remarkable acceleration of digital transformation that’s taken place during the pandemic. Accenture CEO Julie Sweet put some meat on those bones for me yesterday.

Sweet reminded me that when we talked in January, she had said the 2020s would be the “decade of delivery on the promise of technology.” Now, because of the pandemic, there has been a rethinking of how fast that needs to happen. “Today we are 20% in the cloud. We are moving to 80%.” But, “instead of happening in a decade, it is going to happen in five years.”

Sweet is in a position to know. Accenture isn’t a cloud technology company, but it is the leading partner for most of the cloud companies in implementing wide-ranging enterprise applications. She calls the coming transition “a complete re-platforming of global business. This is the Henry Ford moment of the digital era.”

To help companies grab that moment, Accenture today is announcing the creation of Accenture Cloud First, which will involve a $3 billion investment over the next three years to help its clients across all industries become “cloud first.” You can read more here.

Also yesterday, Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos spoke at a Fortune virtual event on the links between climate, health and equity. “It is well documented that fossil fuel emission is very harmful to mankind, claiming 9 million deaths yearly,” he told the group. “This is more than the impact of smoking tobacco.” The company announced this week that it is investing $250 million in an initiative to eliminate fossil fuel use across its operations and to collaborate with several research institutions to address related health problems. When I asked if the private sector could take the lead on climate policy, Vounatsos responded:

“I don’t believe we can solve this issue of global warming and pollution and mortality if the private sector doesn’t pull things together. It has to be the effort of everyone all around the world….and eventually a new order of globalization, shifting from the economy and industrialization and getting people out of poverty, to focusing much more on the climate and the zero-emission goal and global warming.”

The Business Roundtable also jumped in on climate change yesterday, releasing a statement of principles that includes putting “a price on carbon where feasible and effective.” In the BRT’s press release, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon called the issue “one of the greatest challenges facing the planet today”; GM CEO Mary Barra said “climate change is real, and we must act”;  and ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance said the U.S. needs to adopt “a credible, durable and comprehensive climate change strategy.”

And here’s your surprise fact for the day: Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald told me yesterday his company now has more U.S. stores closed due to environmental risk—fires in the West, hurricane in the Gulf, etc.—than due to COVID 19.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Mastercard pledge

Mastercard will invest a massive $500 million over five years to increase financial inclusion among Black communities and attempt to close the U.S.'s racial wealth and opportunity gap. Among its efforts, the payments giant will work with seven cities to help them more easily distribute financial aid and resources to Black communities. Fortune

TikTok deal

Surprise! There is "uncertainty and friction" over the proposed TikTok-Oracle deal, the Wall Street Journal reports, as Trump administration officials want American investors to get a majority stake in the new company that would run the Chinese-owned video-sharing app outside of China. The President himself said he doesn't like the idea of ByteDance, TikTok's current owner, retaining a majority stake. WSJ

Stocks slip

Global equity markets are down following the U.S. Federal Reserve's indication yesterday that it will hold rates at historic lows until the end of 2023 at the earliest. Some economists had been expecting the Fed to signal it was going to boost its quantitative easing scheme by buying more government bonds with a longer maturity. It didn't. Financial Times

Snowflake boost

Cloud database developer Snowflake had its first day of post-IPO trading yesterday, and its stock price closed up 112%. The company has big-name clients such as Capital One and Office Depot and has fast-growing revenues, along with backers like Berkshire Hathaway and Salesforce. Fortune


Autonomy audit

Deloitte has been fined $19.4 million by the U.K.'s accounting regulator over its audit of software firm and not-so-great HP acquisition Autonomy. The audit took place ahead of the $11 billion takeover in 2011—a deal that was followed by a massive writedown after HP found alleged deception in the presentation of Autonomy's finances. The Financial Reporting Council said Deloitte's audit contained "serious and serial failures." Reuters

Tech stocks

What next for tech stocks? Fortune's Shawn Tully dives into that question, arguing that for investments in the likes of Tesla, Amazon and Nvidia to pay off, "they'll have to deliver not just big, but bigger than big. That's the problem." Fortune

Biden on Brexit

Joe Biden has weighed in on the prospect of the U.K. breaking its signed-just-months-ago Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. The British government is currently trying to introduce a new law that could in theory lead to the reintroduction of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to its south and west. Biden: "Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the [Good Friday] Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period." Bloomberg

Gaming consoles

Sony has released pricing information for its upcoming PlayStation 5. At $499, the console will match the price for Microsoft's competing Xbox Series X, rather than undercutting it as was the case with the previous generation of the companies' consoles. There will be a disc-free "digital edition" of the PS5 that will cost $100 less, but Microsoft's relatively low-resolution Xbox Series S will still be a lot cheaper at $299. Expect all the new consoles to launch in early November. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.