Accenture opens innovation center in Florham Park

The company believes New Jersey and its businesses are ripe for innovation and development.

There’s a 3-D printer hard at work in Accenture’s newest innovation center. The just-opened Florham Park facility uses cutting edge tools to help solve business dilemmas. It turns out, this gadget can save time and money in unexpected places said Jenn Stefanowicz, associate manager for digital acceleration capability at Accenture.

“A field worker that needs to have every single redundant part in their truck with them, right? Or maybe they need to go back to the warehouse and pick up a part and then come back. It’s not very efficient. So what if they had the ability to print whatever part they need, on demand? When they need it?” she said.

“What we like to do is bring our clients into the Innovation Center and have a chance to really solve some of their biggest business problems,” explained the managing director of Accenture’s New York Metro office Lynn McMahon. “We’ll really work with them to rapidly prototype what could be done in those situations and then help them actually roll out that sort of transformation very rapidly.”

Digital tools line Accenture’s hallway. They call it ‘Innovation Alley’. Options include virtual reality goggles and a hologram headset to help recruit and train employees, an iPad with two-way communication mobilized on a Segway and a robot that might welcome customers into a store.

Stefanowicz added that the robot might also offer users the opportunity to give you some basic information or even scan a barcode to reveal how much something costs. So, instead of having a greeter at Walmart, a customer would be met by a robot.

Accenture set up some tables where clients will come in and brainstorm issues and, perhaps, pick one of the technological innovations to help solve a problem.

Accenture made the move to New Jersey despite its higher 9% corporate tax rate, compared to New York’s 6.5% rate. It’s already working with big New Jersey clients including Merck and ETS.

“New Jersey’s a very important market for us,” said McMahon. “There are a lot of our clients, this is where they’re headquartered. This is where their innovation takes place.”

Accenture’s revenues last year totaled $33 billion. And, despite its local focus, Accenture’s incorporated in Ireland, which boasts a skinny 13.5% corporate tax rate; less than half the US rate of 35%. It’s called tax inversion and it costs the U.S. billions a year that could be spent on things like local infrastructure, for example. The President has suggested tax reform to bring that money back.

“We do think it’s important to have tax reform, right. And also an infrastructure bill to have more infrastructure investment,” McMahon explained. “North America’s a very important market for us, but we are a global company and we serve clients around the globe.”

Accenture employs 400,000 people worldwide, 1,300 of them in New Jersey. Most of them are highly-skilled and tech-savvy. It’s well aware of the state’s so-called ‘brain drain’ with almost 112,000 people aged 18-24 moving out of state between 2007 and 2014.

“We really want to see the talent grow here in New Jersey so that we can hire people, train people and grow those skills here,” said McMahon.

Accenture’s working with Rutgers and Stevens Institute of Technology to recruit staff. It expects to open ten innovation hubs nationwide by 2020 and hire 15,000 more workers.

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