Accenture spends to beef up IT consulting

The Accenture Technology Consulting group employs about 4,500 people around the world

Accenture last month announced plans to invest US$250 million (NZ$311 million) to enhance services for datacentre management, green computing, data security and business transformation.

New York-based Accenture said the money, to be invested over the next three years, will also include services around IP-based networking and the automation of common workplace activities. The Accenture Technology Consulting (ATC) group already employs about 4,500 people around the world, but has only a small presence in New Zealand after downscaling its activities here a few years ago.

Gary Curtis, ATC’s global managing director, would not provide specific numbers on how many additional people might be hired as part of the expansion, but said the firm would continue to hire aggressively. Accenture recently said it would add significant staff in some of its worldwide operations, including 15,000 in the Philippines by the end of the year. It also recently opened up a centre in India dedicated to working on service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects.

The US$250 million will also be part of a plan to build on Accenture’s alliances development effort with technology vendors, Curtis said, using each other’s sales networks to generate leads and sign up customers.

“We’re not trying to build brand new products jointly. That has a number of complications around it,” he said.

Although ATC isn’t operating around vertical markets, its consultants tend to have industry specialties such as financial services, in addition to their technology skills, Curtis said. These colleagues pair up as appropriate on projects, he added. Accenture has long used offshore outsourcing models, meanwhile, but Curtis said ATC will start applying offshore teams to work on specific problems, like the cost-structure analysis of an IT project.

“That’s a problem we have packaged and industrialised so we can have it done for us by an offshore team overnight,” he said. “There are far lower costs. You get the same result but a lot faster.”

Sebastien Ruest, an IT services analyst with Toronto-based IDC Canada, said consulting historically was divided into technology and business focus areas. Companies like Accenture might specialise in conducting network assessments or builds of operations and infrastructure, while firms like Deloitte or PricewaterhouseCoopers might help customers decide whether or not to open a branch office in other country.

Accenture is investing in ATC in part because enterprise companies are getting more selective about the kind of firms they partner with, Curtis added. “Clients get smarter all the time about their business,” he said. “There are some pure technology consulting buys. Some are interested in transformational change. ATC will be putting all that under one roof”.

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