Accenture beefs up IT consulting practice

Canadian Accenture customers may be able to make greater use of offshore resources following the consulting firm’s plan to invest US$250 million to enhance services for data centre 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.

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 Phillipines 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 specialities 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 industrialized 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 specialize in conducting network assessments or builds of operations and infrastructure, while firms like Deloitte or PricewaterhouseCoopers might have helped customers decide whether or not to open a branch office in other country.

Customers were approaching in two families – IT and business. You had IT copaneis providing IT consulting. How to do network assessments and operations, infrastructure. The Deloittes, PwC – should I open up an office in Guatelama. Should I expand supply chain.

“The trend that is occurring is, a lot of companies are starting ti bundling together,” he said. “Accenture is early in capitalizing on that.” 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.”

Accenture is also known for a series of reports that rank countries around the world in areas like e-government. Earlier on Monday, Accenture said Canada was a leader in delivering customer service through the public sector.

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