‘We use technology to invoke positive change’

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Businesses across the UK are unlocking their digital potential, increasing productivity and driving positive social change, thanks to PwC. The company’s regional offices are working with local, national and international companies to meet a wide range of technology needs.

More than a fifth of PwC’s revenue comes from technology-enabled engagements, an area of ​​growing importance to both the firm and its clients, and in its regional offices, PwC is developing expertise across the technology spectrum to deliver these services to its clients.

In Northern Ireland, for example, PwC’s largest office outside of London, 400 of the more than 2,400 people work in technology. A key part of that operation is data analytics, which involves visualizing data more clearly, so companies can identify key trends in all aspects of their business processes. But the Belfast office does much more, from artificial intelligence (AI), cloud transformation and blockchain, to advanced analytics, DevOps and cyber security. It also contributes to community cohesion and social change in several areas, including the Hive Academy program. This involves students from primary and post-primary schools in Northern Ireland, with technology team members going into schools to help students learn about the fundamentals of technology such as coding, design thinking and security. cybernetics.

Kieragh Nelson, a partner at Operate, the UK company’s operational delivery division, adds that the company is investing heavily in upskilling staff. One scheme, the Digital Accelerators programme, offers a nine-month training course in digital skills. “The thinking behind this is to equip and upskill our people in how we use technology to invoke positive change,” she says. “It’s about how we use data, trends and insights to really focus our efforts on driving change.”

Operate is one of the British firm’s fastest growing businesses. He is leading the way in PwC’s growing use of alternative delivery models, working alongside broader PwC teams to help them move from ‘advice’ to ‘action’, helping clients get things done. The division was created in 2017 to help companies facing operational challenges but lack the experience, resources, or technology to address them. The 2,000-person team also acts as a source of innovation and differentiation for the firm in the market.

Meanwhile, PwC aims to build its presence in the field of AI, through its partnership agreement with the University of Bath. As part of the alliance with the university’s center for responsible and transparent AI PhD training, PwC offers PhD students project-based internships, acts as an advisor to industry students, and has joined the board of strategy and partnerships.

Maria Axente, PwC AI Program Promoter, who leads the association, says: “In the long term, it’s about building a bridge between academic research and industry beyond the technology itself.”

She says that PwC is using its knowledge of AI in business to highlight areas where research is needed. For example, researchers can look at the governance of AI systems, examining issues such as risk, trust in business, and ways to expand the uses of the technology. The governance push could also create guidelines and principles for AI that can be applied in companies of all sizes, from startups to large corporations.

In Scotland, where the technological needs of companies are growing, PwC offices are ready to meet them. The risk assurance team in the technology practice helps organizations manage the risks associated with large-scale change programs and ensure appropriate governance processes are in place; it also helps prevent and respond to operational incidents such as power outages or cyber attacks.

Amongst Scotland’s financial services firms there is fierce competition for technology graduates, with Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and Standard Life Aberdeen vying for candidates. To give it a head start, PwC’s technology risk unit has forged links with the University of Edinburgh to create an apprenticeship in data science; Students complete a 12-week internship with the company as part of their course, with a view to becoming full-time employees.

The firm also partners with a digital skills academy called CodeClan, which helps it hire staff for coding, data analysis and cybersecurity roles. As part of the agreement, PwC contacts full-time students before they graduate to discuss opportunities with the company.

PwC also offers an “ethical hacking” service to clients, looking for ways to challenge and test their cybersecurity controls and identify any weaknesses. The ethical hacking team, which is split between London and Cardiff, has around 25 staff in each office; the Cardiff office offers postgraduate ethical hacking training to up to 20 trainees per year, while more are housed in the London office.

“We go and do compromises on client buildings and assess how secure they are,” explains Stuart Criddle, Ethical Hacking Lead at PwC. “More than half of our work is remote attack work, looking at websites, data loss work, looking to see if certain types of attacks will be used to extract data from sites. We do a lot of attack simulations, looking at people sending emails to clients with bad links, looking to see if we can install software on their machines to take control of their network,” he says.

Helping clients implement robotic process automation (RPA), in which highly repetitive activities such as invoice processing and reconciliation are automated by software, is a key area for PwC’s technology service. But highly repetitive tasks aren’t always easy to automate. To implement RPA in a client’s audit functions, for example, a sensitive and highly regulated area, the Intelligent Automation Center creates RPA robots that complete the tasks end-to-end while respecting the regulations that govern them, all while having an audit . trace of the robot’s actions.

The software resides on a staff member’s computer or a remotely accessible computer, potentially in the cloud, and is activated to handle tasks such as identifying, capturing, transferring and combining data in large volumes between platforms, for example reconciliation invoices between two or more disparate systems. Jason Kurensky, PwC Risk Operations, leads the Center for Intelligent Automation in PwC’s Risk Assurance Business unit based in Manchester. He says the division has helped clients looking to implement RPA in various assurance tasks and activities.

“We have made a difference for our customers who are running an RPA center of excellence, as well as those who are considering how to approach the automation journey. Clients have talked to our team because automation needs to fit into the audit function and they are concerned about audit transparency,” says Kurensky.

“I would say there will be challenges and key areas that all of our customers will face as they adopt, mature and get value from their investment in this technology, and we will focus on supporting them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as platforms and processes vary by organization. We seek to improve the capabilities of our teams to better serve the needs of customers and solve their problems, ”he adds.

PwC is building technology expertise in its regional offices across a wide range of business functions, taking advantage of emerging technologies as it seeks to become a leading and invaluable partner to clients in their digital transformation.

Whether you’re just starting out or have a wealth of experience under your belt, learn more about career opportunities at PwC

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