Always on the hunt for the most interesting and thought-provoking deals happening out there in the world of outsourcing, my curiosity was piqued by the recent deal announced between Accenture Interactive and the Vatican.
The services to be provided are, on the surface, not that remarkable – Accenture Interactive will be implementing a new news portal for the Church called Vatican News – but the motivations behind it, and the approach that the two parties are taking certainly are remarkable, if not unique.
I spoke to Anatoly Roytman, head of Accenture Interactive for Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America. He explained to me that a few years back Accenture Interactive implemented a mobile app for the Vatican Museum, so there was already the seeds of a relationship there. This deal, though, is much more open-ended because the ambition of the Church reaches far beyond consolidating a few news feeds into a single portal. The Church wants their messages to reach as many people as possible; in fact the Pope is personally excited about the opportunity of being able to reach people where they couldn’t normally get to, such as refugee camps and mountain villages. Whereas some ‘normal’ IT projects might see this as simply putting some articles out there on the Internet, this project is actually about bringing the Pope to the people.
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Accenture Interactive have many ideas that they are working on to make this as successful as it can be. They are in discussions with a number of tech partners (Adobe is providing the underlying content platform) to make the content delivery more approachable and accessible. That in itself is a huge responsibility – there are over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world so it has to be done right (how many IT projects do you know that have 1.2 billion potential users?). And that will undoubtedly require a great deal of trust between the two parties.
So, how do you measure success for a project with such an open and trusting remit? Interestingly, that is not something that the Vatican is particularly worried about (at least not as much as Accenture Interactive are). Apparently, just reaching an audience of one where people have lost hope would be counted as success. This is clearly a project that is more about the heart than corporate benefits.
I suggested to Anatoly that change management must be quite a challenge with this project, especially bearing in mind the client and its ‘traditional’ ways. He said that it was indeed challenging, but not in the ways they had expected. Of course, the Church is very small in terms of resources and very traditional, but their biggest concern is actually with security, therefore much more effort than usual has been paid to managing content and infrastructure. Anatoly has been pleasantly surprised about how advanced his client’s thinking can be.
Accenture Interactive must still tread carefully. The basics must be got right, and the ways to get the messages out there must be thought through to be as effective as possible – this is not about a branding campaign, this is about how the world perceives the Roman Catholic Church. But luckily the Accenture Interactive team is fully behind the project – according to Anatoly, people working on the project want to be part of something significant. And this certainly sounds like it will be.
About the author
Andrew Burgess has been the lead architect within several major change projects, including strategic development, IT transformation and outsourcing, in a wide range of industries across four continents. He has developed and implemented sourcing strategies for global organisations, running sourcing programs and helping re-organise IT departments to maximise their value from sourcing. Andrew was recently awarded ‘Automation Champion of the Year’ by the GSA, the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry. He is widely considered to be a leading expert in the growing Legal Transformation and Outsourcing market and has recently written ‘The Rise of Legal Services Outsourcing’ in collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE). Andrew’s latest book, ‘The Executive Guide to Artificial Intelligence‘ has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Andrew is a council member of the Global Sourcing Association and is Head of Consulting at HG Insights.