Moorhouse, Oxford Policy and TORI named fast growing SME consultancies

25 May 2018

Three consultancy firms – Oxford Policy, Moorhouse and TORI Global – have been recognised as among the fastest growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. The firms were among 60 professional services companies listed by the London Stock Exchange.

According to the London Stock Exchange, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of a strong economy. The dynamism and agility of such firms pushes larger firms to innovate, as well as to create high-quality jobs for the next generation, says the financial institution, and as such the London Stock Exchange Group has published its fifth annual edition of its report into the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain. The release identifies the UK’s fastest-growing SMEs and high-growth companies across multiple sectors and regions.

The service sector contributes about 80% of UK GDP, but the research paints an encouraging picture of diversity among the country’s fastest-growing SMEs. The top five industries represented, accounting for 40% of the list, includes Financial Services but the biggest industry by far is Engineering & Construction, followed by Information Technology. Of the 1,000 companies listed, more than 60 were professional services firms, and among those firms are three consultancies, marked out as being some of the fastest growing SMEs in Britain.

Moorhouse, Oxford Policy and TORI named fast growing SME consultancies

Established in London in 2004, Moorhouse Consulting is a transformation consultancy which works to deliver complex transformational projects in key areas including strategic design, change management, customer journey improvement, digital and technology transformations, post-merger & acquisition integration, programme management and performance improvement. Recently, the firm’s position in the sector was underlined when it was listed as one of the top 25 healthcare consultancies in the UK – as the NHS continues to engage the consulting industry in order to eke out potential savings. Moorhouse is currently listed by the London Stock Exchange as being in the £20 million – £30 million revenue band, but was recently the subject of a large merger between three firms, opening it up to a larger client base in coming years.

Oxford Policy Management, which first opened for business in 1979, is meanwhile listed in the £50 million – £75 million revenue band. The international development consulting firm, headquartered in Oxford, aims to help low and middle-income countries achieve growth and reduce poverty via public policy reform. Through the consultancy’s global network of offices, Oxford Policy Management works in partnership with national decision makers to research, design, implement, and evaluate impactful public policy in over 100 countries – including the UK, where the group manages Action on Climate Today, an initiative funded with UK aid from the UK government.

With a team of 140 advisors, TORI Global is a consulting firm which has provided strategy, organisation, controls and digital services to clients in the financial services sector since 2002. The firm is listed as being in the £30 million – £40 million revenue band, in part due to the popularity of its services supporting the business side of cloud transitions, as part of wider digital transformation agendas. In order to improve on this offering earlier in 2018, the London-based firm partnered up with Farnborough-based Fedr8 to develop an approach which uses deep-dive source code analytics to improve the speed and quality of application migration to the cloud compared with traditional migration processes. The firm’s proprietary tool – Green Rain – improves the effectiveness of not just the initial migration from legacy applications, but also with continuous delivery of new application functionality, making it easier to maintain applications in the cloud than has been the case up to now.

According to a recent study, SME consulting firms are set for a bright future vis a vis the large players in the market, such as the Big Four, as cost-weary clients are increasingly eyeing specialisation and focus for best value.

Related: The fastest growing consulting firms and companies of Europe.


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

18 April 2019

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.