Business & Real Estate

Fortune 500 company Accenture unveils new Ice Blocks office space with VR, AI and more

It’s got advanced virtual reality simulations meant to train highway patrol officers, high-tech gamelike programs meant to test for empathy in social workers and promising artificial intelligence software — plus it’s got beanbag chairs and foosball tables.

Accenture, an Ireland-based multinational consulting and technology company recently featured on Fortune’s 500 largest companies globally, opened up a new office in midtown Sacramento’s Ice Blocks Monday afternoon, touting impressive tech demos and emphasizing its creative problem-solving strategies.

Jens Egerland, a senior managing director at Accenture for more than 30 years and the head of its Sacramento office, said the new 10,000-square-foot office is a big upgrade from its old 7,000-square-foot space in Meridian Plaza.

The office, which is part open-layout workspace and part innovation hub, doesn’t necessarily reflect an expanding portfolio — although that’s always a priority, Egerland said — but instead, quicker turnaround on systems solutions and an opportunity for more innovative solutions.

“It’s solving them more effectively, differently and giving us the ability to solve problems that previously were not being addressed.” Egerland said. “This is growth in different areas which we also feel will help growth in the portfolio, but this is focused on really changing the way people think about the problems and the solutions.”

Accenture has been working in Sacramento for decades, and has primarily served the state and local governments to improve large systems in areas such as licensing, health care and finance, Egerland said.

For instance, Accenture and the California Department of Social Services have been working on the Statewide Automated Welfare System, a system that automates welfare processes.

But this new workspace represents a shift in strategy aimed at promoting innovative thinking and unconventional tactics, Egerland said. Part of that is the office’s open layout and the toys and gadgets sprinkled throughout, which attract both employees and clients, he said.

“We’ve been in the area here in various locations since the early 1980s, and this was something we looked at three four years ago. We knew we needed to change how we do business,” Egerland said. “You’re not going to see many Fortune 500 companies in the Ice Blocks. You’re going to see them on the 18th floor of some high rise, and that’s why we really wanted to make this different.”

Now, as it settles into the R Street corridor, Accenture plans on expanding further in Sacramento with more private sector partners in health and finance, more cutting-edge technology like blockchain ledgers and quantum computing and hiring as growth warrants, Egerland said.

Louis Stewart, the chief innovation officer for the city of Sacramento, said the opening of Accenture’s new office in Sacramento may also drive other technology companies to the city, echoing remarks from Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who spoke at the opening.

“To have Accenture here in the Ice Blocks — in one of the emerging and changing corridors in our city — is a very important market signal for others who are thinking about ‘where do I want to start? Where do I want to move? Where do I want to expand?’ ” Steinberg said.

If Accenture’s new digs sound like the quintessential laid-back Silicon Valley megacorporation’s office space, think again, Egerland said.

“Yes, we’re part of a very large company, but I consider us to be a Sacramento company serving the state of California and local government,” he said. “The Bay Area doesn’t have a monopoly on good thinking and good practices.”

Last year, Accenture made $41 billion in revenue and has almost half a million employees worldwide. It employs more than 550 in Sacramento.

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Vincent Moleski covers business and breaking news for The Bee and is a graduate student in literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the university’s student newspaper, the State Hornet.