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What have been the key success factors for Accenture?
One large success factor for Accenture has been its timing. "Accenture started life as the consulting arm of accounting firm Arthur Anderson In 1989, Anderson Consulting separated from Arthur Anderson in order to position itself against its IT services competitors" (Keller & Kotler, 1994/2006, 366). Accenture was able to take advantage of its large parent company and use its massive support to concentrate on becoming an efficient and popular name in the consulting market. Leaving Arthur Anderson before the corruption with Enron became public may have saved the company the same fate of many organizations that suffered for their connections to the accounting firm.
By "piggy-backing" on Arthur Anderson at a fortunate time, Accenture was able to correctly view the tide of the consulting business and branch out into the staffing business. I doing so, Accenture has successfully filled a niche by being able to supply the staff needed to accomplish the innovative ideas it provides to its clients. Says Ian Watmore, Accenture's U.K. chief, "Unless you can provide both transformational consulting and outsourcing capability, you're not going to win" (Keller & Kotler, 1994/2006, 367).
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Accenture has also benefited from strong advertising campaigns. Forced to remove the Anderson name from its title, Accenture launched an advertising campaign in 2000 to promote its new moniker. The result was a 350% increase in the number of firms considering Accenture's services (Keller & Kotler, 1994/2006).
Whatever the change in business brings to the consulting or outsourcing markets, Accenture will adapt quickly and most likely ahead of their competitors. "Due to the strong performance culture and the flexible and implementation oriented nature of its employees, Accenture has been able to make difficult transitions much faster than its competitors (Ottink).
Where is Accenture vulnerable? What should it watch out for?
Accenture defines itself as "a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, and technologies to help clients improve their performance" (Accenture, 2006). In short, Accenture is in the business of helping businesses make money. By combining transformational consulting and outsourcing capabilities, Accenture can more efficiently execute and deliver ideas to help companies grow their bottom lines. Accenture's success "is demonstrated in its revenues ($11.8 billion in 2003) and its number-52 ranking on Businessweek's Top 100 brands" (Keller & Kotler, 1994/2006, 367). In addition, Accenture has landed more and more contracts from the public sector (Harris Corporation, 2006).
Because of Accenture's stellar performance prior to, during, and after, the dot-com crash (Accenture Ltd. CAN, has outperformed the S & P 500, Nasdaq, and the Dow since April 2001 with stock prices doubling during that time), Accenture must protect its investments from a number of different directions.
First, Accenture is being challenged by low cost providers. As a result, Accenture CEO Bill Green "reported pressure on margins and less deals that are attractive enough to cover the risks involved" (Ottink).
Second, Accenture is facing growing pressure from strong local companies, such as EDS, IBM, and other traditional IT players.
Third, the very nature of outsourcing is risky. Issues pop up that are sometimes difficult to predict or difficult to control. "For example at Sainsbury, problems on the client side with the implementation of a new distribution system and a new CEO leave Accenture vulnerable to a potential cut in the seven-year deal" (Ottink).
As Accenture is awarded more and more contracts (especially those from the public sector), these difficult to mitigate tasks will only increase.
What recommendations would you make to senior marketing executives going forward?
In order for Accenture to maintain its leading edge over the stiff competition, as well as strengthen its vulnerabilities, there are some recommendations that senior marketing executives should focus on.
The first key proposition for Accenture is to keep up its high reputation for being a global leader in the outsourcing, information technology, and business consulting arenas. It is through continuous innovation and premium performance (Keller & Kotler, 2006, 352) that Accenture can do this. The most current advertising campaign, with Tiger Woods as their "poster boy", gives them outstanding publicity. It also allows their consumers to recognize that they continue to be a strong force within their industry. Their current slogan is "Go on. Be a tiger." (http:// www.accenture.com/Global/About_Accenture/Company_Overview/Advertising/default.htm).
Another real life example Accenture is cutting the competition is through "pure competition" and a "frontal attack strategy" (Keller & Kotler, 2006, 344 and 356). By accepting a bid from Ford Motor Company, Accenture has to prove itself to the world by competing against Ford's current global agency partner, WPP, that it has what it takes to maintain its global leading image. Ford has pitted two companies to compete for their marketing dollars in an effort to turn around its recent misfortunes within the automobile industry. Accenture has accepted the challenge and puts much pressure on WPP to perform, even though one Ford executive said of Accenture's assignment, "it's an additive thing, not a substitutive thing" (unknown, 2006, 18).
Lastly, if Accenture is to continue being a market leader, it must make a strong effort to retain and keep strong leaders within its organization and keep them satisfied. There are at least two former leaders from Accenture that are now employed by competing companies within the same industry.
What should they be sure to do with its marketing?
Accenture appears to be carving out an industry niche using the brawn of a sledgehammer. According to an article published in Creative Resistance of British Columbia, "Accenture has a history of controversial deals." The article goes on to disclose the exorbitant over-budget contracts it has negotiated. (Citizens for Public Power, 2002) In their split from Arthur Andersen and relocation to popular tax haven' Bermuda, Accenture's business dealings show little sign that it has made a clean and honest break from its former bed-partner.
Although, Accenture's stockholders are raking in the profits, consumer confidence continues to teeter on the edge of a precipice. The overwhelming bulk of leadership at Accenture comes from the leading ranks of now defunct Arthur Andersen. An old say provides ample reason for public skepticism, "If it walks like a duck (Arthur Andersen), quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it's a duck." In this light, the company needs to continue its efforts to rebuild public perception and take additional care in its attempts to re-brand itself. In BusinessWeek Online, CEO, William Green, notes that eighty-seven percent of deals in Accenture's industry fail. There's a lot more we want to do in certain areas of business-process outsourcing." He goes on further to establish three specific mission components. The first concern is consistent service around the globe for our clients; next, competence and lastly, the cost of providing service. (A Long, Strange Trip, 2004) Capitalizing on the trendy concept of global outsource networking,' the critical concerns for Accenture hinge on their ability to convince the public-at-large that they are trustworthy in addition to focusing on the three major concerns that William Green claims guides organizational decisions. Their initial success has occurred based on avarice and a willingness to bid-low, get the job and raise the ante mid-stream. Long-term success based on these criteria depends on the continued decay among those with unlimited financial resources and the willingness of consumers with limited pecuniary storesto be caught in circumstances they are unable to recover from and suffer take-over actions by the former. The fact that Accenture is spending large sums in attempts to re-brand itself indicates they have been branded before. Exercising caution in wielding the branding iron again, seems amongst the higher matters it addressing its marketing schemes to encourage public confidence and down play the inherent tendencies in deception its leadership learned from their mentors at Arthur Andersen.
Accenture. (2006). About accenture [Web site]. Available from Accenture, http://www.accenture.com/Global/About_Accenture/default.htm
Citizens for Public Power. (2002). Fact sheet: Accenture. . (Original work published 2002) Retrieved April 9, 2006, from Creative Resistance Web site: http:www.creativeresistance.ca/awareness/2002-sept07-fact-sheet-accenture-citizens-for-public-power.htm
Harris corporation. (2006). Harris Corporation Selected for $600 Million U.S. Census Bureau Field Data Collection Automation Program. Available from Harris corporation, http://www.harris.com/view_pressrelease.asp?act=lookup&pr_id=1818
Keller, K. L., & Kotler, P. (2006). Marketing management (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. (Original work published 1994)
A long, strange trip for Accenture's CEO. (2004). . . (Original work published 2004) Retrieved April 9, 2006, from BusinessWeek Online Web site: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_46/b3908088_mz063.htm
Ottink, F. (). Can green deliver high performance for accenture? [Electronic version]. The Interactive Investor Journal.