Accenture has beautifully moved into the number-one spot among transformational service providers. They snatched it from IBM, their biggest competitor for that spot.
How did they do it? Accenture created a significant gap between itself and IBM in two game-changing aspects: customer access and talent.
Accenture gained a leg up on IBM in customer access because it was better able to access the emerging business stakeholder groups outside of the IT organization. They were better able to communicate with the CFOs or business heads and leads, which helped increase Accenture’s credibility around transformation services. Discussions with the business stakeholders also gave Accenture visibility into large transformational opportunities.
In the second aspect, Accenture built a larger and deeper bench for consulting and systems integration (SI) talent than IBM.
Accenture has taken transformation services to a level that’s hard to beat.
But IBM has taken the challenge seriously and has been busily recruiting consulting talent. They started in the ERP arena and are now extending it to other areas. We’re seeing a lot of ex-strategy consultants showing up at IBM from Booz Allen and other firms.
So IBM is closing the gap created by Accenture in consulting. As they do that, they are starting to win back market share.
But then along came the dark horse, Deloitte.
Deloitte is contesting both Accenture and IBM for large transformation deals. But it’s able to be more disruptive to Accenture — in fact, the disruption is right along the same lines as Accenture followed to beat IBM.
Access to boards of directors and senior management suites has been a defining differentiator of Accenture and IBM compared to other providers in the transformational services landscape. But Deloitte is able to match them in this customer access aspect. And the dark horse provider has even better access than Accenture to the business stakeholder groups, particularly the office of the CFO, which is becoming increasingly important on large transformational agendas.
Deloitte also brings similar consulting and SI talent as Accenture, plus it has deep industry knowledge and industry practices; thus Deloitte is highly relevant on industry and domain topics, not just on technology.
But far more interesting is the central difference in the way Deloitte and Accenture approach transformational problems. Accenture tends to carve out the attractive outsourcing pieces and leave the asset-heavy risk-shifting pieces for others. Deloitte takes a much lighter touch and agile approach. The dark horse tends to reconfigure transformation agendas to be more of a consulting and SI effort and less of an outsourcing effort. This doesn’t work well with every client, as some prefer an outsourcing approach; but this lighter, more agile approach makes Deloitte’s offering more complete and distinct.
IBM is starting to narrow the gap that Accenture created. But Accenture is still the reigning king among transformational service providers. Both need to watch out for the dark horse as Deloitte has emerged as a tier-one transformational provider in the same category and same quadrant as Accenture and IBM.
There are other providers trying to get into the tier-one group. But that’s another story. Stay tuned for a future blog post on who they are and how they’re trying to compete.