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Intelligent automation systems spark Accenture-Splunk pact

Accenture, a global professional services firm, has entered a formal alliance with Splunk to tap the company's operational intelligence products and services.

A newly inked alliance between Accenture and Splunk Inc. creates a partnership that targets intelligent automation systems, IT security and, potentially, other technology fields.

Accenture and Splunk unveiled the agreement this week, but have been working together on a more informal basis for about a year. Accenture, a global professional services firm with 373,000 employees and 2015 revenue of $31 billion, contributes its enterprise client roster, consulting services and application service offerings to the pact. Splunk, meanwhile, brings to the table its operational intelligence software and services, as well as a customer base numbering more than 11,000.

Splunk's core technology indexes, searches and analyzes machine data, which can be brought together with other data types to provide insight into a business' operations. Machine data may be generated from a range of devices, including computers, mobile phones and sensors.

Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive for Accenture Technology Services, based in Dublin, cited "Splunk's ability to access machine data, and make that more usable and valuable for everyone" as one of the factors behind the alliance.

Embedding Splunk in intelligent automation systems

Accenture, Ghosh said, has integrated that capability into its intelligent automation platform, which the company calls myWizard. Launched April 12, myWizard aims to improve application quality, productivity and time to market, according to Accenture. The company said the platform eliminates repetitive application development and management chores, and helps developers become up to 60% more productive on task-related work. The platform has been deployed to more than 100 customers, according to Accenture.

Accenture's approach to intelligent automation systems uses artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, a technology that relies on software robots to eradicate repetitive, manual work. Ghosh said an organization needs a strong analytics base as a fundamental component, noting that the Splunk alliance "will definitely help to strengthen" that area.

While Accenture stands to benefit as it builds upon Splunk's technology, the software company can also take advantage of the formal relationship. Bozhidar Hristov, professional services senior analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. (TBR), based in Hampton, N.H., said Splunk can potentially grow its customer base, given Accenture's presence among the Global 2000.

"If they expand their addressable market in the enterprise arena, it's a good win for Splunk," Hristov said.

IT security focus

The two companies plan to target a number of technology fields beyond intelligent automation systems. Dave Schwartz, head of worldwide partners at Splunk, based in San Francisco, cited the Internet of Things, IT operations, digital analytics and security as initial areas of focus, in addition to application development and management.

"The alliance will develop offerings based on market demand," Schwartz said.

One such offering integrates Splunk's analytics into Accenture's Managed Security Services. Accenture plans to provide security information and event management (SIEM) on an as-a-service basis for customers. The packaged offering will use Splunk Enterprise and Splunk Enterprise Security, providing advanced threat detection, correlation, search and incident management.

The alliance will develop offerings based on market demand.
Dave Schwartzhead of worldwide partners, Splunk

TechTarget Research Information Security Market Landscape Study, Q1 2016, suggests tapping Splunk for SIEM might resonate with customers. Splunk trailed only Intel Security and IBM in SIEM and log event management customer spending, according to TechTarget's biannual study that involves more than 400 information security professionals. Out of that population, 77 responded to the question on SIEM spending.  

Stephanie Artigliere, an analyst at TBR, said the Splunk alliance underscores Accenture's increasing emphasis on IT security. While Accenture has been embedding security within its offerings, such capabilities are moving more to the forefront, she suggested.

"They are highlighting it more," Artigliere said of security. "They are building capabilities at the same time they are marketing it more."

Artigliere pointed to Accenture's August 2015 acquisition of FusionX, a Washington, D.C., cybersecurity company, as one example of the buildout. While the acquisition boosts Accenture's consulting resources, teaming with vendors, such as Splunk, expands the technology side of the company's security portfolio, she noted.

Additional offerings from Accenture and Splunk "may be tailored to various business areas, including digital, marketing and sales," Schwartz said.

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