Accenture has launched LearnVantage, an AI-native learning platform. The company is backing the launch with an investment of $1 billion over the next three years. As part of its development of LearnVantage, Accenture is acquiring online training provider Udacity for an undisclosed sum.

Julie Sweet, chair and CEO, Accenture (Image Credit: LinkedIn)
Julie Sweet, chair and CEO, Accenture

Julie Sweet, chair and CEO, Accenture, said, “We are passionate about helping our clients become ‘talent creators’—with people at the center of their reinvention using technology, data and AI—and a critical part of that is investing in industry-specific training and technology skills development.

“We are scaling Accenture’s deep capabilities as a world-class learning organization to help our clients meet their business growth objectives and enable their people to develop the relevant skills they need to make the most of the opportunities that technological change is bringing.”

Training is big business

There is a global skills shortage across technology. Organisations are scrambling to upskill their existing staff, and that is costly. Sending people on courses means having someone to cover them while they are away. Even then, when they return, there is a period of learning and applying the knowledge gained before they are productive.

This is where online training platforms, such as Udacity, have carved out a major market. They allow people to build their own training plans to fit into what they see as their career needs. The training allows them to work on both personal advancement and also towards professional qualifications.

Organisations are also becoming more relaxed about online training and are making budgets available to staff. For some, it is seen as allowing their staff to choose their own path. For others, it is about continuous development for their staff to fill gaps. As organisations adopt more AI and automation, that training will also make it easier to redeploy staff.


One thing that is not clear here is the role of professional certifications. Will LearnVantage look to create combinations of courses that will need to new certifications? It could take the existing Udacity courses and look at what combinations make sense and which align to more formal certifications but that will take time.

A more likely move will be to get the courses it offers recognised by vendors such as RedHat, Microsoft, IBM, AWS, Google and others. That would give a significant boost to LearnVantage as it looks to establish itself in the market.

It may also look to do deals where it takes on the courseware written by other vendors as it looks to offer professional certifications. It may go further and get them to allow it to become a certified training partner, which would also help drive business to the new company.

This is more than Accenture offsetting its own training costs

Interestingly, in making this announcement, Accenture said that it invests more than $1 billion per year in a wide range of learning and training for its more than 700,000 people. That training delivers approximately 40 million training hours annually. That is a significant number, and it would be interesting to see how that compares to other similar organisations.

The company stated, “Training is helping Accenture achieve its goals to double its deeply skilled Data & AI practice professionals to 80,000, and the company is rolling out training for 250,000 technology professionals by the end of fiscal 2024. Accenture has already trained more than 600,000 of its people in the fundamentals of AI.”

But is this just about Accenture? Definitely not. While it might look to direct some of its own training needs to LearnVantage, it will see this as a profit centre. That means getting customers to buy in and use the new platform, which is why it needs to address the certification questions above.

Keeping up with training requirements

Acquiring Udacity significantly boosts Accenture’s intellectual capital. It also means that it gains a large group of highly experienced subject matter experts and educators. That means that Accenture can examine the skills challenges faced by its customers and build courses to address those needs.

Importantly, this will give it a commercial edge over its competitors. It can bundle customised and targeted training with the deals it offers customers worldwide. It is a move that is likely to be welcomed by customers, and with the Udacity acquisition, it doesn’t have to wait months or years to be able to do this. LearnVantage can begin to earn immediately.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

This is a smart move by Accenture, and the $1 billion that it is investing is a small amount compared to the potential it offers. Enterprises have always had a love/hate relationship with training. They know they need it, but they’d prefer not to pay for it.

Many no longer want to send staff on courses unless absolutely necessary. The arrival of self-teach books and online training that people can do from home allowed them to shift some of the costs and training burden. However, that has come back to haunt businesses as the skill shortage has soared over the last decade.

Accenture is now stepping into that market but not as a new player. It understands the value of training and invests heavily every year. Now, it has decided it no longer wants to spend money consuming training; it also wants to provide training and make money as a provider.

This is a move that will worry established training providers. There has been a major shake out over the last decade with many small companies disappearing, vendors reducing their training departments and courses for customers. A few large platforms have become dominant.

Now, we have an 800lb gorilla entering the market with a massive amount of funding and a large customer base that it can sell to. Will it recover the investment? Of course. Only a fool would see this as a risk, but will it bring other investment into existing platforms? That is a harder question to answer.

What will be interesting is to see how Accenture’s existing training partners react to this. It is now a competitor and not just a customer. That is going to create tension.


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