Interview: Avanade, Digital Technology Leaders Awards finalist

'Our purpose is to make a genuine human impact for our people, our clients, and our communities'

clock • 4 min read
Simon Turner, CTO, Avanade UK and Ireland
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Simon Turner, CTO, Avanade UK and Ireland

The influence of digital technology has profoundly changed almost every aspect of modern life.

Whether it's the way we work, seek entertainment or communicate, various domains have undergone transformative changes.

The Digital Technology Leaders Awards occupy a special place among Computing events. Rather than platforms and tools, this event is dedicated to the companies and workers driving technology forwards at the leading edge of IT.

This year, the winners were announced at a live ceremony on Thursday 6th July in Central London.

Simon Turner of Avanade was a finalist in the running for the CTO of the Year.

We caught up with Simon to learn more about his role and the company.

Awarded one of four global Founding Distinguished Engineers recognitions by Avanade, Simon has been spearheading innovation since joining the company in 2020.

Leading on all new data and AI projects for UKI, Simon has been instrumental in leveraging the Microsoft ecosystem to address big challenges for clients, such as enabling better care in the health sector, protecting endangered species and driving new ways of bringing sustainable actionable insights to organisations.

Simon is fully committed to Avanade's purpose to make a genuine human impact for the company's people, clients and communities. He is aligned to the vision to advance the world through the power of people and Microsoft.

He believes passionately that the role of CTO has a responsibility to inspire, educate and support younger generations to grow the diverse talent needed to tackle the future's inevitable complex challenges.

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers.

Simon Turner: Avanade is the leading provider of innovative digital, cloud and advisory services, industry solutions and design-led experiences across the Microsoft ecosystem. Every day, our 60,000 professionals in 26 countries make a genuine human impact for our clients, their employees, and their customers. We have been recognised, together with our parent Accenture, as Microsoft's Global SI Partner of the Year more than any other company.

With the most Microsoft certifications (60,000+) and 18 (out of 18) Gold-level Microsoft competencies, we are uniquely positioned to help businesses grow and solve their toughest challenges.

We are a people first company, committed to providing an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves. As a responsible business, we are building a sustainable world and helping young people from underrepresented communities fulfil their potential.

Majority owned by Accenture, Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation.

What makes you different from other companies?

At Avanade, our purpose is to make a genuine human impact for our people, our clients, and our communities. How do we achieve this? We have a relentless focus on inspiring and innovating with our clients. We constantly challenge ourselves and our clients to think outside the box and to think disruptively to create impact; this is both for their company and their clients, whilst seeking to have a positive impact on the environment wherever possible.

Internally we strive to inspire our colleagues, which includes present as well as potential colleagues and younger generations. We believe that innovation is a force for good and we thrive on being able to demonstrate this. We do what matters.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

A key highlight for me over the past 12 months was being awarded the OFWAT grant, alongside our client and partner Anglian Water. This demonstrates what can be done when organisations work, not just collaboratively, but as a single team.

Being able to be part of a project that could make a discernible difference to water quality in a specific catchment area is a terrific achievement for Avanade and Microsoft. This concept can be applied to tackle other global environmental issues, which will be an incredible step forward in using technology to build a more sustainable world.

What are you working on this year?

The last six months in technology have been dominated by generative AI (Gen AI) - the noise around the topic is nearly deafening. It is indeed a spectacular leap forward in many areas and it has captured the imagination of clients and people.

At Avanade we believe in an "AI first" philosophy, and we are focusing on cutting through some of the hype surrounding Gen AI. This year we are focusing on how AI can deliver a step-change in transformation for businesses in a meaningful, cost effective and sustainable (including environmental) way. Gen AI is just one aspect of that and developing a way to use it responsibly in collaboration with our clients, governments and our people is the biggest focus for us this year.

Why are events like the Digital Technology Leaders Awards important to the IT industry?

One of the challenges we have in our industry is being able to "see the wood for the trees" in an increasingly noisy and cluttered landscape. Awards like this help to elevate and publicise people and projects that are creating real impact in areas that matter such as the environment and equality.

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