Q&A with Accenture’s Annette Rippert: Mobility Convergence, Big Data Misconceptions, & the Federal Mobile Market

Annette Rippert, Accenture Federal Services

Annette Peterson Rippert is a senior executive in Accenture Federal Services technology services group. She leads the federal practice’s work in systems integration and application outsourcing, and is the primary lead for cloud computing and mobility services.

Rippert has a B.S. in Computer Science from Northwestern University and a Master’s of Management degree from the university’s Kelly School of Management.

She spoke with WashingtonExec about how she got to Accenture, advantages in cloud computing and mobility, the company’s recent social media pilot program contract win, mobility definition and misconceptions, and more.

WashingtonExec: Could you tell us a little more about your background and your current work at Accenture?

Annette Rippert: I spent over 18 years at Accenture with our commercial practice and during that time I had a variety of roles including responsibility for our workforce transformation practice, where we focused on improving the productivity of large scale workforces. That included leveraging leading edge mobility solutions. This provided me with a unique opportunity to understand the complex issues that can arise with a broad-based mobile deployment. I also had the opportunity to lead our network service line practice where we assist providers of network services to more effectively leverage emerging technologies to bring new products and services to their customers. Today I’m leveraging my background each day in our Federal practice to bring deeper experience and insight into our cloud and mobility offerings.

WashingtonExec: What would you find to be the advantages of cloud computing and mobility services?

Annette Rippert: In my experience one of the advantages of cloud computing is that it’s enabling the convergence of mobility, analytics, and social collaboration in a wide variety of new and exciting ways. This convergence allows companies and governments to deepen their connection with consumers, employees, businesses and objects with which they interact. One example of this is mobile health, where this interaction enables a game- changing array of services for the future of our healthcare industry. The advantages extend further into mobile health, such as real-time data collection and communication between the patient and the physician, reduced patient support care costs, improved clinical processes and workflow and access to patient records, to name a few.

WashingtonExec: What would you say is the largest challenge you face when implementing cloud and mobile technology?

Annette Rippert: Mobility certainly faces unique challenges when it comes to implementation in the federal domain. There are the issues with security, device and data protection, interoperability, privacy, the proper encryption of data and compatibility between and across different systems. At Accenture, we’re helping our federal clients to address these issues head on.

We can provide our clients with insight and innovation that they need to manage the complexities that are specifically related to the federal mobility market.”


WashingtonExec: Regarding the recent contract that Accenture won from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to aid the Office of Health Affairs develop a social media analytics pilot. Can you tell us a little bit more about that project or provide any updates?

Annette Rippert: This is a one year contract that looks to enhance bio-surveillance capabilities. It’s a social media analytics pilot to manage, link and analyze data from social media networks in real time. All of the information for this pilot is pulled from public sources. It is information people choose to share via public social networks. We’re looking for patters that would be an early warning sign of a national health emergency such as an infectious disease outbreak or a biological attack. The work started in early October and it’s really in its formative stages.

WashingtonExec: How would you define mobility?

Annette Rippert: The world is rapidly approaching billions of internet connected users and tens of billions of consumer electronic devices and hundreds of billions of commercial-l or industrial-connected devices and sensors. It is mindboggling. Being able to access, find, use, analyze, and send that information quickly across many channels without being locked into any one device or location – that’s what I would call mobility.

WashingtonExec: Do you find any misconceptions where mobility and big data are concerned?

Annette Rippert: Accenture’s research has confirmed our position that mobility, big data, and analytics are converging. One study that showed that analytical insights people seek will increasingly be consumed on mobile devices versus through a desktop– in fact over 33 percent of those inquiries will be through mobile devices by 2013. I believe that data, if used correctly through analytics and trend spotting, can provide flexibility, insight, cost savings and information to truly impact the enterprise and the mission. The key is to remain focused on solving the business issue that’s at hand.

WashingtonExec: How are you monetizing mobile? Are you worried at all that the federal mobile market is doomed to pilot programs?

Annette Rippert: I believe that mobility is really a pervasive technology, not only impacting our federal clients and their ability to support their missions, but also becoming inextricably part of our daily lives. This consumerization of IT is pushing agencies to better leverage mobile technology, This will result in purpose-built applications, leverage cloud, analytics and other areas to drive new levels of productivity standpoint.

I’m certainly bullish on the future of mobility, and not disappointed by the fact that agencies are starting off with pilot projects. I believe that pilots are important steps to help understanding and determining mobility’s place in the agency’s mission.”


WashingtonExec: Do you have any thoughts on what might be the next big thing will be in federal IT?

Annette Rippert: I talked a little about the convergence of cloud computing, analytics, and mobility. This convergence is really changing the complexion of what’s possible moving forward. I believe that those three technologies will allow us to change the way we interact with our constituents, suppliers, and companies we interact with. I think they will fundamentally change the way that federal IT is delivered and managed.

WashingtonExec: Do you have a favorite app?

Annette Rippert: My favorite app is Waze. It’s a traffic and navigation app that uses crowd sourced data to provide real time updates to traffic and road closures. It demonstrates how gathering sensor type data from a mass of everyday objects– people in cars, the speed of their car – can provide a layer of intelligence to an application that once would have required purpose- built sensors and capabilities. My second favorite app is Angry Birds. It’s my favorite app because it delights my 6- year –old, giving me an occasional moment of peace So you have to like a light hearted app once in a while too.

WashingtonExec: What would you consider to be your proudest achievement?

Annette Rippert: I would have to say that first is having the opportunity to raise five fabulous sons. They are the apples of my eye and they are very insightful – especially when it comes to mobility! I would say that first but closely followed by the sense of achievement that I feel about my professional career. Very early on I had an opportunity to work with some of Accenture’s most pioneering client engagements and with very bright people to bring about new technologies into the marketplace, and many of these technologies have formed the basis of today’s mobility and cloud solutions. It’s that spirit of innovation that’s been a pervasive part of my work throughout my career. It inspires me. It motivates me. I’m one of those lucky people who simply loves my work. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by clients and colleagues who feel the same way.

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