I had the pleasure and honor of being invited to the opening of Accenture’s Advanced Technology Center in Alicante, Spain, which will be working with some of the most impactful technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, blockchain and extended reality. The center focuses on delivering technology solutions for its clients, will significantly boost Alicante’s technology and business ecosystem.
This center already has 85 employees, and is expected to have more than 200 by the end of 2020. It has been named the Pierre Nanterme Center for New IT, in honor of the late CEO of Accenture.
The opening ceremony was attended by the President of the Valencian Government, Ximo Puig, and the Mayor of Alicante, Luis Barcalá, as well as distinguished members of the Alicante technology and business community such as Andrés Pedreño and Pedro Pernias of AlicanTec.
Alicante: A Mediterranean “Silicon Valley”
Alicante has a long history of being one of the top vacation spots in the southeastern corner of Spain, but lately the local government has put a lot of effort into changing the economic model of the region by bringing in new technology companies.
As I mentioned in my earlier article titled “Why is Alicante an Excellent Destination for Finnish Companies?” Alicante is an ideal place for many technology companies. There are already 25 Finnish tech companies that have joined Alicante’s Digital District, and more companies are coming all the time.
“We want to contribute to the fact that Alicante would be a Mediterranean ‘Silicon Valley,’Juan Pedro Moreno – Chairman and CEO Accenture Spain
In some ways Alicante is even more attractive than Silicon Valley, as it offers more affordable living prices combined with the beautiful Mediterranean scenery and climate. According to the Numbeo statistics page, consumer prices are 67.74% higher in San Francisco than in Alicante, and the rental costs are 620.76% more expensive.
Impressive Demos of DARQ Technologies
Accenture calls these disruptive technologies DARQ, which stands for:
- Distributed ledger technology (blockchain)
- Artificial intelligence
- Extended reality
- Quantum computing
During the opening of the Advanced Technology Center in Alicante, I was able to participate in several technology demos. Here is a short description of each one:
- Quantum Computing: Out of all the DARQ technologies, quantum computing is the one about which I know the least (for now), but could be the most impactful. Accenture professionals shared how quantum computing is already being used in the medical field and logistics, and how it is able to make enormous amounts of calculations at exponentially faster speeds than current computer processors.
- Distributed Ledger Technology: This demo showed how blockchain and distributed ledger technology can be used to manage various processes and challenges in the smart cities of the future by providing a central ledger where all transactions would be registered. This could help to automate many current processes and decrease the need for paperwork in the public sector.
- Extended Reality: Extended reality (XR) is an all-encompassing term that includes all forms of augmented reality, virtual reality and immersive technologies. This demo showed how basically everything can be simulated using extended reality in combination with artificial intelligence. You can read a more detailed description of extended reality here.
Artificial Intelligence: Although there were several AI demos, one of the most significant ones for me was the demo related to how Accenture does upskilling internally, meaning preparing its employees for the changing needs of the workforce of the future. The image below shows different “skills maps,” which Accenture uses to help upskill its workers.
Paul Daugherty is the CTO of Accenture and author of the book Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, which I highly recommend reading. According to Daugherty, whom I greatly admire, upskilling your current personnel is much less expensive and more effective than trying to hire new staff.
Local Leaders Welcome Accenture to Alicante
During the inaugural speech, the President of the Valencian Government, Ximo Puig, stated that the application of artificial intelligence will be one of the key strategies of the Valencian Government and Digital District, including working with Nuria Oliver, distinguished AI researcher, data scientist and Alicante area resident.
The Mayor of Alicante, Luis Barcalá, also spoke, highlighting that Alicante City is open to collaboration, and that he wants to ensure that technology companies such as Accenture feel comfortable in Alicante, since they are so important for the city’s future.
This type of technology center will have a substantial positive impact on the Alicante region. Not only will it generate a significant amount of new job openings, but it will also help to establish Alicante as one of the vital technology centers in Spain and southern Europe.
To learn more about Accenture and DARQ technologies, you can download the full report, which includes videos, here.
- 21 Artificial Intelligence Examples and Use Cases
- 9 Reasons Why Artificial Intelligence is Important Now
- How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Transforming the Travel and Hotel Industries
Here are some additional pictures I took during the opening ceremony.