David Williams on why Capgemini regrouped to launch Capgemini Invent

20 September 2018 Consultancy.uk 9 min. read

Capgemini Consulting has unified its branding with acquired firms LiquidHub, Fahrenheit 212, Idean, Adaptive Lab and Backelite to create Capgemini Invent. The move will help provide clarity on what the brand offers clients in terms of digital transformation capabilities, and to create tailored solutions for the changing demands of modern business, according to the company’s UK Managing Director, David Williams, who sat with Consultancy.uk to outline the future plans of the new brand.

When the news broke that Capgemini had merged its consulting, digital and creative businesses, it marked a major change in the history of the company’s consulting business. The move that sees one of the strongest consultancy brands leave the stage, while the new Capgemini Invent business line bundles Capgemini Consulting with four acquired firms, creating a business with some 6,000 consultants in more than 30 offices and 10 creative studios. In the process, Capgemini has forged one of the largest such consulting and professional services entities in the world, while breaking with an industry tradition which usually sees firms keep their consulting wings separate from their digital and design offerings.

It also marked an important new chapter in the career of David Williams. Williams has been with the Group for nearly 28 years starting at Bossard, then Gemini Consulting, and then with Capgemini Consulting UK where he has been Managing Director and part of the global leadership team for the past five years. When asked if he will miss the old branding, Williams responded with a resolute “No, consulting is radically changing and I’m more excited to be part of forging something new, something that will change the shape of the industry.” His time in the constantly evolving consulting wing of Capgemini has seemingly taught him well that change is part and parcel of the territory.

Williams went on to say, “I think this is a hugely relevant step for Capgemini to take because the landscape our clients face has been so disrupted. Digital trends such as big data, AI, aggregation platforms, cloud hosted digital solutions, and heavy duty analytics to deliver personalisation of services, are all powering a new breed of competition. It’s something which the Amazons, the Airbnbs, the Ubers and the Deliveroos of every industry have been benefitting from, and our clients are having to move in response to that opportunity, as well as to fight off the threat posed by new entrants in their markets.”

David Williams - Managing Director Capgemini Invent UK

In this new era of doing business, Williams is keen to stress that all companies have to take stock of how they need to alter programmes of strategic change, going forward. He contends that the era of big organisations undergoing massive, expensive transformations once every say three years is outdated. Now, with agile competitors eating into the market share of even major corporate entities, this tactic no longer cuts the mustard, and Williams asserted, “Instead, businesses must look to change constantly, to adapt to a changing environment in real-time, and to evolve as a living, breathing organism.”

The changes at Capgemini align to today’s era of continuous change. According to Williams, “We have to live and breathe our own advice, and ultimately practice what we preach. The reinvention, the rebranding, the change of offering to adapt to the needs of our clients, these are all based in the same methodology we offer to those clients, making us much more fit for purpose.”

Capgemini Invent sees a number of parts of the business coming together, with the hope that its advisors will be able to envision and design digital transformation strategies, which can deliver tangible digital solution prototypes and transformation plans to clients, in an age when consulting is increasingly called upon to provide holistic solutions. Capgemini Invent has combined Capgemini’s acquired properties of LiquidHub, purchased in February 2018 for £400 million; Fahrenheit 212, an innovation consultancy bought in the first quarter of 2016; and creative design agencies Idean, Adaptive Lab and Backelite – with Capgemini Consulting. The new entity is led by Cyril Garcia, formerly CEO of Capgemini Consulting, who will now take up the top job at Capgemini Invent.

As well as retaining his former role, now rebranded as Managing Director Capgemini Invent UK, Williams will wear a second hat in relation to creating the global Capgemini Invent Portfolio. 

Why now?

Williams unveiled that Capgemini Consulting has seen “very healthy growth” in recent years, and almost doubled in size globally since 2014,but highlighted that it was important for the company not to rest on its laurels. While the company saw profits in the UK fall for the first time in five years during 2017 – something which Paul Hermelin, Capgemini’s Chairman and CEO attributed to Brexit uncertainty – Williams anticipates a high demand for Capgemini Invent capabilities in Britain.

Capgemini’s family of brands

“We have been growing strongly, working with clients to evaluate threats to their businesses, and opportunities for change,” he said, before explaining, “Anticipating that this demand continues to expand, and indeed to change, as the digital transformation consulting market expands further [a $44 billion industry], we have to be ready to meet that demand. The unified Capgemini Invent positions us to do just that.”

Examples of this changing demand include when Orange engaged Capgemini to help set up a retail bank – from inventing the proposition, to linking to its core business and setting it up for launch – or recent work done for Business Stream, a Scottish Water company, where Capgemini helped to work out how the client could improve service provision, and think through robotics and RPA plans for on-boarding of clients. While Capgemini already boasted the capabilities to help clients with such digital transformation needs, the new Invent brand will be able to provide holistic, tailored solutions, with all its services under a single symbolic roof.

Williams added that bringing these consulting, creative design, technology and data capabilities together will also help to create a better understanding of what Capgemini can offer clients in these regards. He expanded, “This will create clearer propositions for our clients. We can now better leverage the combined powers of our company.”

At the same time, the decision to make the change was not taken lightly. Williams said that the choice to blend its components together was eventually taken because the company believed that clients are looking for traditional consultancies to go beyond advice, and to help them understand what changes they can make in a tangible way. This includes moving beyond consulting and change management, into proto-typing, design, and the use of technology to deliver minimal viable propositions that can be implemented at scale through the rest of the Group.

With this in mind, Williams is confident that the deep market and industrial expertise and knowledge from the consulting business combined with data and technology specialists from the main Group and the creative designers from the recent acquisitions, Capgemini Invent is now well positioned to serve all C-suite clients with business and technology services, not just the Chief Information Officer – all of whom need and demand digital solutions for their business.

“We have to live and breathe our own advice, and ultimately practice what we preach. The launch of Capgemini Invent is based in the same methodology we offer to those clients, making us much more fit for purpose.”

The future

When asked what will drive Capgemini Invent in the future, Williams said, “First and foremost our drive is to be successful in supporting our clients through the digital revolution. We’ve been growing consistently already, and we expect significant growth relating to this in the coming years.”

Part of the maintenance of that momentum will come from Capgemini Invent’s impressive headcount. The unified brand will boast a team of more than 6,000 employees, making Capgemini Invent one of the largest consultancies of European-origin. In comparison, Netherlands-headquartered BearingPoint has around 4,500 employees, France’s Wavestone draws on a workforce of 2,800 employees, and German-origin strategy consultancy Roland Berger hosts around 2,400 employees.

When brands are unified following acquisition campaigns, the buyers often implement efficiency measures, downsizing the unified staff wherever deemed possible. Williams insists that in the case of Capgemini Invent, however, the contrary is the case. When asked if such cuts could be on the table to push down expenditure, he stated emphatically, “No, and there are no plans for it.” Instead there seems to be a clear intention to further expand the staff, to increase further up the company’s ability to meet demand, and reap a higher number of billable hours in the process.

According to Invent’s UK boss, the news has been taken well by the professional service company’s incumbent staff, too. Williams enthused that responses he had had mirrored his own excitement, concluding, “Internally we announced the new brand to all employees. I think its landed very well, because as professionals and experts, our staff want to work at the forefront of the exciting changes that are taking place in industry.”