September 30, 2020

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

Good morning. I’ve written before about the remarkable acceleration of digital transformation that’s taken place...

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 modernization, 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
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

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