In particular, the line between professional services firms and IT vendors is becoming more blurred than ever. KPMG, which went out early on e-commerce, is preparing to IPO a consulting joint venture with Cisco, a manufacturer of routers and switches.
On the local front, KPMG has gone even further, acquiring one Web development firm (Wellington's The Web) and forming an alliance with another (Clearview). At least one other "big five" firm is poised to announce a major Internet alliance with a New Zealand company.
And, of course, it would be unlike Microsoft to let a trend go by - hence what looks to be a significant pact with Andersen Consulting. Not only will the two companies work together, they, too, will have their joint venture, Avandne - plus a dedicated unit within Andersen to focus on Microsoft enterprise solutions.
In a global sense, the new alliance will allow Microsoft to build further the credibility of its Windows 2000-based enterprise platform - and provide a smooth path into the services sector which may be crucial for it in the next few years. Andersen also provides a useful conduit for Microsoft to develop its ability to work with the likes of SAP and the business portal vendor Commerce- One.
Andersen, KPMG Consulting and the others gain, for their part, partners already adjusted to the accelerated pace of the online world and, in the case of Web development companies, access to creative skills. In cases such as KPMG Consulting and - eventually, surely - Avadne, the respective parties get to dig out a bit more value by dint of a public offering.
But the biggest impact of all the new alliances locally is likely to be in lifting the confidence of New Zealand's business sector as it makes its choices about e-commerce. New horizons look less daunting when there are familiar faces to take you there.
Russell Brown is IDGNet's news editor.