Duo of deals for Cognizant with acquisitions of Netcentric and Zone

30 October 2017 Consultancy.uk

Cognizant, the global technology consulting and services firm, has announced that it will acquire UK digital agency, Zone and Netcentric, a digital experience and marketing expert headquartered in Zurich. The two purchases, adding more than 600 new staff members to the firm’s global workforce of 256,800, are designed to build on Cognizant’s abilities in interactive digital content, commerce and marketing.

The digital design space has become increasingly populated in recent years, as companies and customers begin to increasingly leverage online products, goods and services. This has also led to a number of global consulting industry players buying into the industry, as they seek to diversify their portfolios to maintain growth, while offering clients a one stop solution across marketing, user experience and software related background. The story of Accenture Interactive’s work for media conglomerate-turned-publishing house Pearson recently displayed the threat that consulting industry players pose to traditional advertising agencies, as the firm provided a holistic service for an integral part of Pearson’s business operations.

As part of this growing trend, global professional services company Cognizant has reached an agreement to acquire Zone, one of the United Kingdom’s leading independent full-service digital agencies specialising in customer experience, digital strategy, technology and content creation. The transaction, which is still subject to satisfaction of closing conditions, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Zone was established in 2000, with the company taking up its headquarters in London. It was recognised as Agency of the Year in 2016 by the British Interactive Marketing Association (BIMA), while serving top brands, including adidas, Aviva, Maersk, Marks & Spencer, and Unilever, among others. Zone offers these clients its capabilities in application development, user experience and content strategy, which will enhance Cognizant’s established digital interactive expertise in experience design, human science-driven insights, and analytics.

Zone to become part of Cognizant

Cognizant will hope the purchase of zone will enable them to leverage digital interactive solutions to a broader base of C-suite decision-makers throughout the UK and Europe by expanding its capacity for delivery. Upon the closing of the acquisition, Zone’s more than 220 digital agency experts will join the Cognizant Digital Business practice. Zone will retain its offices in London and Bristol, as well as in Cologne, Germany.

James Freedman, Founder and Executive Chairman of Zone, said, “Effective digital strategy and implementation is mission critical for business today. We are seeing unprecedented demand for digital expertise from clients across every industry and every market. By joining Cognizant, we can significantly enhance the depth and breadth of our offering to better serve the needs of both existing and future clients in the UK and beyond. The leadership team at Cognizant shares our ambition and entrepreneurial spirit, and we are thrilled to be working with them in the next stage of Zone’s evolution.”

“The digital economy is all about content and context -- the right content, to the right person, at the right time, via the right channel -- to create meaningful experiences,” said Santosh Thomas, President, Global Growth Markets, Cognizant. “CMOs and CIOs everywhere see how technology is increasingly central to their marketing efforts, and they are seeking a partner who can help them innovate and transform, using digital technologies to evolve their brands, foster customer loyalties and drive growth. Combining Zone with Cognizant strengthens our end-to-end capabilities and provides more localized access for clients in the UK and across Europe. This acquisition will be another powerful step forward as we grow our capabilities in the digital interactive space. We look forward to welcoming Zone’s digital specialists and their expertise to our team.”

Netcentric deal

Following this news, Cognizant rapidly entered into an agreement to acquire Netcentric, a leading service provider in Europe’s digital transformation market, which transforms customer experiences for the world's top brands by unleashing the full potential of the Adobe Experience Cloud. Headquartered in Zurich, Netcentric works with leading brands such as Allianz, Mercedes-Benz, Miles & More, Raiffeisen, Swisscom and UBS, helping them personalise and deliver engaging digital experiences to customers.

Netcentric's 380-strong digital marketing teams in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, as well as regional delivery centres in Barcelona and Bucharest, will enhance the Cognizant Digital Business practice's ability to deliver business critical digital experience solutions for clients in Europe and around the world. The Netcentric purchase is also expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017, subject to satisfaction of closing conditions including the German regulatory review. As was the case with the Zone deal, financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Cognizant to acquire Netcentric

"The rapid growth of our business is driven by clients who understand that flourishing with the new digital economy requires merging marketing and digital concepts powered by more flexible IT that is delivered globally," said Elian Kool, CEO, Netcentric. "By joining forces with Cognizant, we will be able to integrate marketing, technology, analytics and AI to help clients provide personalised experiences across multiple channels and enable their digital transformation."

"We are excited about the Netcentric acquisition as it underscores our commitment to our clients across Europe and enhances our portfolio of digital capabilities in the interactive and digital marketing space," said Gajen Kandiah, President, Cognizant Digital Business. "It also further extends our Adobe Experience Cloud presence for the global brands we serve. We continue to expand on the digital marketing and experience skills our clients demand, and round out our ability to deliver these services to the market at scale."

Earlier in 2017, Cognizant further bolstered their digital and technological offerings with the purchase of Japanese intelligent products and solutions firm Brilliant Service, for an undisclosed sum. The addition saw the Japan-based team of 70 join the firm, adding extensive technical and regulatory knowledge to Cognizant's presence in Japan.

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