The early adopter

12 Nov 2012

Author: Brad Howarth

Photography: Pierre Toussaint

Video:

’Big Four’ accounting firms are not normally thought of as hotbeds of innovation. At least they weren’t until Peter Williams showed up at Deloitte Australia.
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Since his arrival, Williams has been driving the integration of digital and social media technologies across the firm and into its clients. From its Melbourne office he launched Deloitte Australia’s eBusiness Consulting group, and in 2003 convinced the firm to buy the web and mobile development firm Eclipse Group. Then in 2008 he founded Deloitte Digital, which works with clients to unlock the business value of emerging technologies.

A chartered accountant by training, Williams describes himself as an intensely curious person, who was captivated by the Web as far back as 1993.

“I tend to learn a lot by doing, so I quickly started getting my hands dirty with this stuff,” Williams says. “And it ignited a passion in me.

"If I see something interesting, I’ll pick up the phone and call the person who did it.”

Williams has driven the use of tools such as Facebook and Twitter at Deloitte, and was behind the adoption of Yammer, the enterprise social network service, as an internal collaboration and communications tool. Yammer is now company-wide, and those units that are the biggest users also report the best returns and highest morale.

He says digital technology and innovation are now part of Deloitte’s DNA. “We’ve had a web development business sitting next to auditors and tax guys and actuaries for 10 years, so the osmosis factor at Deloitte has been major,” Williams says.

Williams also played a crucial role in the rebuilding of the Victorian town of Flowerdale, which was destroyed in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, using social media to tell the stories of survivors and coordinate rebuilding efforts.