Google ERP solutions gaining momentum in consulting industry

20 March 2017 Consultancy.uk

Google is gaining momentum as an IT services provider to the consultancy industry. Jeroen Hovinga, Sales Marketing Director at GeeFirm, one of the first firms to provide an ERP solution exclusively via the Google ecosystem, reflects on the trend. 

‘Google? Are you kidding?’ Until recently, Google did not play any serious role whatsoever in the professional services market. Project management? Finance? Collaboration? There was no Google App for that. The tech giant had in the eyes of many no chance against the dominance of the Microsoft ecosystem in the business environment. 

But of late the landscape has started to turn – rapidly. Professional Services organisations and consultancies are now becoming aware that Google and all the treasures that recently have been built upon and around its core technology are becoming a very interesting alternative for the dinosaur from Redmond.

How come that Google succeeds in attracting more and more consultants? First, there is prevailing the ‘cloud first’ IT strategy. Cloud computing is nowadays the way to go for businesses of all sorts. It is not really necessary to recap all the benefits of cloud computing for Professional Services as they are well documented in the market: more flexibility, easier innovation, seamless collaboration, to mention just a few. To put it a bit stronger: Cloud was invented by Google. Note that all the Google services were online from the very first beginning in 1997. And Microsoft? They embraced the cloud just a few years ago, light years after the start of Google Apps. Will they ever be able to bridge the gap? 

Cloud-based ERP solutions from Google

FYI: the first time the term ‘Cloud’ was publicly articulated was in 2006, ten years after the introduction of Google Search. Interestingly, the term was coined by a Google executive. Eric Schmidt, then Google CEO, introduced the term Cloud in August 2006: “What's interesting [now] is that there is an emergent new model, and you all are here because you are part of that new model. I don't think people have really understood how big this opportunity really is. It starts with the premise that the data services and architecture should be on servers. We call it cloud computing – they should be in a ‘cloud’ somewhere. And that if you have the right kind of browser or the right kind of access, it doesn't matter whether you have a PC or a Mac or a mobile phone or a BlackBerry or what have you – or new devices still to be developed – you can get access to the cloud.”

Mind boggling

Then, there is Mobile. Especially in consultancy, where professionals need to work wherever and whenever the client urges them to, that’s quite a thing. Mobility is a basic living condition for consultants on the move. Google has understood this right away. The worldwide market share of the Android operating system for mobile devices simply is mind boggling: about 90%. Apple’s iOS scores 12,5% and Microsoft a bit more over 00,25%. Each day, over 30,000 new Chromebooks are activated; and G Suite has more than 60 million users within the United States’ education system alone. Those students are the professionals of tomorrow. Will they ever be willing to move into legacy?

Another important factor for acceptance and adoption is ROI: costs versus revenues. Many consultancies have embarked on their own business case for cloud products and services . And whatever are included or excluded when calculating: Google offers a much better price-performance ratio. Again another tick in the box.

But we are just touching the basics here: the productivity office applications such as old school text processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and such. Microsoft still has a significant market share, but Google is enjoying the momentum. 

War theatre

The benefits of Google over Microsoft for Professional Services organisations (PSOs) are clear enough. However, in my opinion, it is far more relevant to monitor what is happening upon that foundation of productivity technology. Productivity platforms, solutions and tools are generic: everyone can use them, everybody may benefit. The vertical solutions that support specific industries or roles are now the war theatre. The cutting edge is found right there, in the vertical solutions – with professional services businesses one of the most ferocious battlegrounds.

G suite

As it stands, Microsoft had the upper hand. But that advantage is decreasing, as more and more apps, solutions and integrations are emerging in the Google ecosystem. Just take a look in the Google Marketplace and you will be astonished by the variety and choices. 

Many PSOs have investigated, reviewed and benchmarked, including established names such as PwC, functional specialists like Quint Wellington Redwood and a range of boutiques and new kids on the block. After that, they have decided to leave the beaten paths and go for change, growth and innovation.

What have they been able to find? For starters: they can leave the ‘Era of Legacy’ behind. They experience 10 times better software in terms of functionality, speed and user experience. They benefit from the scalability that turns them from a local provider into a potential global player. For example, Frank Grift, CFO, said a while after adopting Google’s G Suite platform (supported by VOGSY, a cloud-based ERP solution for mid-sized PSOs): “Dare to Challenge is our motto that challenges us and our clients to improve continuously and execute a real Digital Transformation strategy. G Suite as part of Google Cloud offers a robust and secure environment to support and expedite this change of our collaboration model internally and with our customers. Until now we were using a private hosted environment and for reasons of modern consulting models, flexibility, TCO and IT footprint reduction, we decided to embrace public cloud.” 

And most of all, PSOs that have turned to Google see the fun experience in the eyes of their professionals. And in the war for millennial talent, that is a very strong asset.

Google services for Professional Services event

Later in spring, Google, VOGSY and Appirio (a Google Cloud implementation partner) are jointly organising an event focused on Google services for the Professional Services industry. The event will be hosted in Google’s offices in Amsterdam. Those interested in joining can notify GeeFirm on this page.

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Accenture's push into the creative sector is an identity crisis

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

In its latest push into the creative sector, Accenture Interactive acquired New York and London-based ad agency Droga5 earlier this month, adding illustrious clients such as HBO, Amazon and The New York Times to its roster of clients. With the latest in a long line of similar purchases, Accenture Interactive further demonstrated its ambition of becoming the globe’s leading trusted advisor to chief marketing officers. Yet according to Ben Langdon, Chairman of Class35, Accenture’s strategy may be heading in the wrong direction.

A press release on Accenture’s website announcing the acquisition sits next to a quote stating that “brands aren’t built through advertising” – a huge contradiction from a consultancy firm hell-bent on becoming the ‘CMO agency of choice’. It’s not alone of course. The entire consulting industry wants a piece of the creative pie right now. In addition to Accenture Interactive, recent acquisitions by PwC Digital, IBM iX, and Deloitte Digital meant that in 2017, for the first time ever, four of the world’s ten largest creative agencies were consultancies.

So just what it is that Accenture wants to achieve from this? For one thing, it’s clearly trying to be a digital transformation business. A one-stop creative shop rivalling more traditional models, it wants to lure CMOs in with the promise of lower ad spend and a “more impactful customer experience”. At the same time, though, it’s still in thrall to those same slinky, shiny branding and advertising agencies it’s attempting to disrupt. The Droga5 acquisition and that of Karmarama a few years before are both testament to this.

There’s a fundamental problem with this, though. Digital transformation businesses don’t sell to CMOs. These people have enough on their plates trying to transform their own marketing skills in order to keep up with an ever-changing market – they just don’t have the time or the energy to concern themselves with digitally transforming a whole business. If Accenture’s purpose is digital transformation, then going after creative agencies is barking up the wrong tree.Is Accenture's push into the creative sector an identity crisis?

Worlds apart

Perhaps more importantly, these two industries are worlds apart in terms of the way they think. Creative agencies are all about ideas, campaigns and consumers. Digital businesses, on the other hand, are customer-driven – they think in terms such as lifetime value, measurement, and efficiency. Customer-led thinking is an entirely different beast to consumer-led thinking.

The reality is that the arrival of digital and an all-encompassing obsession with technology, measurement and social has led to the death of agencies in a reductive, zero-sum, efficiency-focused battle with brands. Indeed, agencies have become so obsessed with the latest tech fads, they’re beginning to forget how brands work. Worse still, they’re beginning to forget how brands are built. And, by forgetting, they’re destroying their own values.

Killing creativity

All things considered, it really feels to me as though Accenture is a chip leader in a game it doesn’t understand. Expensive acquisitions like these show that they’ve got the big money, but they don’t appear to have any idea what they’re doing with it. Take talent, for example. The best talent in the creative industry right now is out in the market; it’s not tied to any one agency. Both agencies might well be at the top of their game, but why would a consulting firm waste so much money on buying them when they could hire high-quality creative talent on a contingent basis instead?

As their presence in the top 10 creative agencies shows, there is a growing trend in which Accenture, like many of the other big players, are buying up agencies as if they were nothing more than keywords. What they’re really buying, though, is a collection of credentials, clients and IP. Unfortunately, the talent that created those credentials aren’t going to stay at the business, the clients that hired the agency in the first place won’t be interested in buying what is basically just another part of Accenture, and the IP never really existed to begin with.

Droga5, for example, was one of the few agencies that did great brand work the old-fashioned way – undoubtedly something that made it attractive to Accenture in the first place. The irony, though, is that by leading it further away from the way of working that made it so special, the consulting giant will kill its creativity.

“Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record…. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.”

If pressed, the recently acquired agency staff at Accenture will tell you just how dysfunctional the new arrangement is. They’re largely unfulfilled. Rarely do they feel their work has any sort of meaning or purpose. What’s more, the different disciplines have found little or no common ground, and find it hard to work together as a cohesive whole. It’s not surprising, then, to see talented people leaving in droves.

Beyond the window dressing 

It’s clear, then, that consulting firms and creative agencies are no easy bedfellows. But in his company’s defence, Accenture Interactive’s Senior Managing Director for North America, Glen Hartman, described its culture as being “far, far away from what a stereotypical consulting firm would look like. Our office and studios look a lot like Droga5’s.”

In demonstrating a belief that office design equates to workplace culture, this statement serves as an illustration of how confused Accenture is right now. It wants to justify its new strategy so badly, it’s started dressing like a creative agency. But if you look beyond the window dressing and see that you and your partners are speaking a different language with a different purpose, selling to different people in a different market, there’s no getting away from the fact that you’re different.

Accenture Interactive has been dazzled by its ambitions to become the CMO agency of record, and it wants to dazzle others with its new direction. But, in flashing its cash, it is spending millions on acquiring nothing of any value.

Related: Space between consulting firms and creative agencies is converging.