A.T. Kearney & McKinsey celebrate 50 years in Germany

12 May 2014 Consultancy.uk

The year 2014 is an extraordinary year for A.T. Kearney and McKinsey & Company in Germany. Exactly 50 years ago they opened their first offices in our eastern neighbouring country, coincidentally both in the city of Dusseldorf, Germany. In the honour of reaching this marvelous milestone a special event was organised for approximately 250 executives, entrepreneurs and media representatives in the city of Berlin. Attention was drawn to the history of these two consultancy firms and the advisory market’s future trends.  

The Firm

Mckinsey & Company was founded by an accountancy academic in the year 1926 named James Mckinsey. MicKinsey was advising clients in the field of management. The consultancy branche was merely 40 years old at the time (Arthur D. Little was founded in 1886). It was a niche market in which consultants were primarily focused on mapping cost structures. Marvin Bower 'the father of modern management consultancy' (as stated by Harvard business school) joined McKinsey in 1933. During the thirties and forties this consultancy firm made huge progress under his guidance. Gradually the United States’ market was penetrated. As a result internationalization followed in the fifties. In the year 1959, the first office outside of the United States was opened in London.

James McKinsey Thomas Kearney

In the year 1964, another company was founded in Dusseldorf. Since then McKinsey & Company has grown to become the largest strategy consulting firm in the world with 7.500 consultants working in offices in over 50 countries. By estimation this company also has yielded over 27.000 alumni.

A.T. Kearney

According to A.T. Kearney,  their company was founded in 1926. It wasn’t only up until 1947 that the name A.T. Kearney had been made official. Founder Tom Kearney renamed his firm from ''McKinsey, Kearney & Company'' to A.T. Kearney. In 1929 founder James McKinsey hired Ander Kearney becoming the firm's first partner. After the unexpected death of James McKinsey in 1937, the partners had disagreements over how to run the company. As a consequence McKinsey was divided into three firms, namely: Scovell, Wellington & Company (accounting practise), McKinsey, Kearney and Company (Chicago office; led by Andrew Kearny) and McKinsey & Company (New York office; led by Marvin Bower). In the year 1947, Bower purchased the exclusive rights to the name McKinsey & Company from Tom Kearney, who renamed his firm A.T. Kearney.

AT Kearney McKinsey Dusseldorf

In 1964 A.T. Kearney opened its first international office in the German city of Düsseldorf. Within a few years offices followed in Milan, Paris, and London. The Amsterdam office of A.T. Kearney was opened in the year 1980. Following a 11-year spell period under the flag of IT-service company EDS, which nearly led to its downfall, since 2006, after an MBO,  A.T. Kearney operates again as an independent consulting firm. In the year 2014 A.T. Kearney is listed in the top-5 strategic consultancy firms in the world, having 3.500 consultants, working in 59 offices spread over 40 countries.

German consultancy market

The German management consulting market has an estimated market value of  €22,3 billion. With an approximate 600 million turnover, McKinsey & Company is the biggest management consultancy firm in the country. For more information check out this article ‘Top 8 management consultancy firms in Germany’.

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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.