Strong consulting arms boost Indian IT and BPO services

06 October 2015

Infosys and Wipro, two large Indian outsourcing concerns, have in recent years struggled to reel in big fish clients for their consulting arms. Recent research finds that outsourcing firms that leverage their well-developed consulting practices are set to be winners in the battle to cross-sell solutions to big international clients. The firms have therefore sought to transform their consulting practice, with a keen eye on best practice at Cognizant Technology Solutions.

The Cognizant approach
Cognizant Technology Solutions is one of the larger consulting deliverers in the IT ecosystem. The firm claims to have perfected an operational model for leveraging IT outsourcing and consulting practices. “We have created a unique and highly operating successful model that you could say is the magic sauce behind Cognizant recording massive numbers for the last five years,” explains Mark Livingston, Executive Vice-President of Consulting at Cognizant.

Since 2008, under the guidance of Livingston, the firm has grown its practice from a footprint of 1,000 consultants to a practice of more than 5,400, with many of the new hires acquired from EY and Deloitte. The firm pioneered the ‘three-in-a-box’ approach, which sees at least one consultant, one client partner and one delivery director operative for each large client. The client partner provides operations management, while the consultant seeks to identify potential improvements to business operations. The three are, according to Sandy Gopalan, Vice-President of Consulting at Teaneck, New Jersey-based Cognizant, “[…] tied to the hip.”

Best practice at Cognizant Technology Solutions

According to Livingstone, the strategic approach provides clients with the right mix of strategy and implementation for their potential needs. He remarks that: “Our consulting practice is not standalone. In our model, consultants are more like software delivery sales guys. It’s a matrix model where the consultancy organisation reports to the vertical in the business and reports to me. So it’s aligned with delivery and we go jointly to market.”

Digital growth
In recent years, the demand for technology driven solutions to business problems, as well as the development of analytics and forms of social media, continues to drive consultant demand, a recent Source study finds. It has been this demand – and Cognizant’s adequate solution – that has propelled its strong growth. “Strategy without technology is no strategy at all. Now as digital becomes default, clients are simply not buying strategy alone from top-tier consultancies. Every great idea has to have technology as a backbone. This explains how we win in more than 70% of times competing against the top consulting firms. So we are using consulting to help accelerate growth of delivery (of our technology offerings) because we can implement the idea, we can quickly develop a prototype, using design thinking and other things and that is what has helped us,” says Livingston.

Infosys, Wipro and TCS are catching up

Catching up
Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro each built consulting practices to provide advice to large enterprises worldwide about opportunities to simplify their technology and business operations with Indian business services. Their consulting expertise as well as Indian hosted IT outsourcing would provide competition to the more expensive services of consulting giants. With the increased demand for digital, as well as the need to provide clear consulting advice to potential clients, Indian IT suppliers are seeking to strengthen their positions.

Infosys for instance, is reorganising its consulting practice by merging its Swiss consulting unit Lodestone with its consulting practice, and has – following Cognizant’s success – bound 100 of the firm’s consultants to the management of 200 of its largest clients. The hope of the integration is to develop a new way of working that will bring about a $20 billion giant by 2020. So far the strategy has managed to increase business by 5.7% from its top clients. Wipro is playing also catch-up. According to the firm’s Chief Operating Officer Abid Ali Neemuchwala, the consulting practice will have three distinct foci: business operations consulting, IT strategy and operations and organisational change management. TCS too is repositioning itself, with the key move to provide business consulting services as part of its wider IT services packages.

Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm, comments: “However, as IT service firms mature, they realise that this [business consulting] is a key driver for future deals. The firm which can service a client with more of their offerings will win in the next three to five years.”


First Consulting helps BDO to build new RPA capability with UiPath

22 March 2019

Global accounting and consulting firm BDO is working on its own digital transformation, as it looks to pioneer the use of Robotic Process Automation in its work. Business consultancy First Consulting is helping BDO with designing the RPA journey and building its internal RPA capability.

Robotic Process Automation describes a process that utilises software programmed to autonomously carry out basic tasks across applications, reducing the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees.  Able to be developed and deployed in a matter of weeks, RPA is highly cost-effective and can typically demonstrate returns on investment within a few months. It has been known to dramatically improve the speed and accuracy of processing, resulting in a quicker and higher quality of service to customers.

Last year, BDO explored the value of Robotic Process Automation, concluding the technology has the capacity to bolster the firm’s service offerings as well as internal operations. On the back of this analysis, the professional services firm incorporated RPA into its ICT strategy for the coming years. This has already seen the first robot delivered at BDO, which has since been taken into use by the business.

First Consulting helps BDO to build new RPA capability with UiPath

First Consulting is advising BDO on all aspects of deploying and scaling up the technology across the organisation – from capability building, governance structure and processes to architecture and IT infrastructure. The joint team of BDO and First Consulting have, meanwhile, also taken the first steps to set up an internal RPA capability.

BDO faces a key year for its operations, particularly in the UK where it has recently become the fifth largest provider of audit and advisory services in the country. As the firm looks to further grow its junior auditing market lead over the Big Four, the effective deployment of innovations such as RPA could prove key in the coming period.

With RPA on board, BDO’s ICT department aims at increasing the satisfaction of employees by removing a range of often boring (repetitive, administrative) tasks. By automating such tasks, productivity can also be increased at the professional services firm, as its staff will be freed up to spend more time performing value-adding activities. On top of this, RPA can execute tasks and processes with a lower margin of error compared to humans, enhancing BDO’s internal operations.

Working with RPA vendor UiPath, during the project at BDO, First Consulting has sought to apply its best practice RPA growth model methodology. The approach differentiates between three different growth phases, starting with RPA, structuring RPA, and scaling RPA.

Project results are delivered through an agile approach. According to the engagement partners, the following results were achieved in a period of six weeks:

  • Developed a first robot process that directly creates value for the business and contributes to the 360 degree customer view by migrating information from two systems to another system;
  • Advice and implementation plan on the technical design in relation to RPA, ICT guidelines, a security questionnaire and a basic infrastructure;
  • A roadmap for setting up an internal RPA capability, including the following components: processes & governance, change management and capability building & training;
  • Plan for setting up benefits tracking / monitoring as well as reusability of robot process components.

So far, First Consulting and BDO have enjoyed a pleasant and productive cooperation, achieving “tangible results” along the way. According to First Consulting’s team engaged by the project, the close match between the firms’ norms and values proved a key success factor. In the coming period, First Consulting and BDO are investigating opportunities to develop a digital capability in other areas of BDO’s business.

Roel van Overdam, Head of RPA at First Consulting, said of the collaboration, “Our pragmatic, no-nonsense approach has clearly paid off.”

Related: First Consulting: Is RPA implementation going in the right direction?