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40 Stories: Tony Kernan of Accion Labs

How can companies transform and modernize in our rapidly advancing world? With a strong focus on digital transformation, Accion Labs helps businesses around the globe leverage cutting-edge technologies to stay competitive in today's dynamic market.

The Tech Council’s Sheena Carroll recently spoke with Tony Kernan, Co-Founder and SVP of Engagements, about the company’s international presence, Generative AI, and the work ethic of Pittsburgh tech industry:

Tony Kernan, Accion LabsSC: Can you tell me a bit about Accion Labs and what you do?

KERNAN: We started in 2011 and are a product engineering company of about 5,000 engineers. We’re focused on helping tech companies build software, products, and platforms. We’ve grown significantly, but since the very beginning, we have sought to work with companies on their journeys to create world-class products.

SC: Accion is based in Pittsburgh but has quite the international presence! Tell me about that, as well as your focus on digital transformation and Generative AI.

KERNAN: Yes – in fact, we just came back from our annual Accion Innovation Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we showcased our work on Generative AI and digital products. We highlighted how companies can realize their vision and create, optimize, and modernize their work.

We’ve been fortunate enough to hold our Innovation Summit in a diverse set of countries, including Singapore, Dubai, and India. The idea is for all of us lovers of technology to come together for three or four days under one roof. It’s not a sales conference – there is no selling – it’s a tech conference that helps companies.

SC: That sounds like an amazing opportunity to learn more about what’s currently going on.

KERNAN: We talked about the previous 12 months and tried to forecast what the next 12 months may look like. Then we brought everything we learned back to the States. We tried to capture and repurpose a lot of the content, ideas, and best practices we learned during the Summit to bring to our clients and associates, our friends and family – anybody and everybody! We evangelize what we learn and what we do there, and it’s very fulfilling.

When it first started, the Summit was designed as a reward to the technologists at Accion Labs. We thought, “Let’s reward the architects who are building these products.” A few years into the event, a customer showed up. We thought this was neat and decided to start inviting customers. This year, of the 350 attendees, about 70 were customers and clients. They joined in roundtable and panel discussions, and some delivered content about breakthroughs and what they are seeing from their vantage points.

SC: Where do you see the future of technology in Pittsburgh?

KERNAN: It’s about the people’s data – how do we make data accessible to everybody? How do we modernize our platforms? How do we eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies? That’s how we see the future – as a continual modernization of data and technology.

We’re currently doing that by leveraging today’s emerging technologies, including Generative AI. We have about a two-year head start in Gen AI – our teams are continually thinking about next-wave, cutting edge technologies.

SC: Why did Accion join the Pittsburgh Technology Council?

KERNAN: It was an obvious decision for us. The reputation, goodwill, and work that you’re doing resonates across this area and we are excited and delighted to be a part of this community. It’s one way for us to get to know other lovers of technology. We all share the same goal – to create a robust tech environment in Pittsburgh. The city still has a blue-collar appreciation for hard work. Accion Labs is no different, and I think that most members of the Tech Council also share that appreciation for roll-up-your-sleeves work.

40 Stories is a special series celebrating the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 40th anniversary through the diverse stories of our members, old and new.

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40 Stories is a special series celebrating the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 40th anniversary through the diverse stories of our members, old and new. It is sponsored with the genrous support of DQE, UPMC Health Plan and Faros Properties!