Accenture: Playing to the Tune of Modern Times
To do great business today takes more than just placing a product or service on the market.
Strategizing, management, digital technologies, and operational consulting are some ingredients that make a smooth-sail business cake.
Integrating these values into the picture, Arthur Andersen created a platform that does things a few steps ahead. Accenture is a service leader that helps businesses improve their efficiency and operational growth while also digitizing companies of various industries so they can easily keep up with the times. Calling the way they do business a professional and personal responsibility, the Accenture team has not only earned its place in the service market but also brought together countless partners, individuals, and communities in the process.
With a journey that started way before technology existed as a service in itself, here is how Arthur Andersen beat the odds of his time and built a company mogul for the ages.
Back to the Roots
The story of Accenture takes us back to 1885 in Illinois, when the company founder Arthur Andersen was born. It was usual for minors to work at the time, so from the age of 16, Arthur worked as a mail boy and attended school at night. In 1908, he graduated from Kellogg School of Management and gained a Bachelor's degree in business, becoming the youngest certified public accountant in Illinois at age 23.
In 1913, Andersen and Clarence DeLany founded the accounting firm Andersen, DeLany & Co. Five years later; the company was renamed Arthur Andersen & Co.
The employees' education levels made this company different at the time.
Arthur believed education was essential for building and developing one's skills, especially accounting. He was an ambassador for training implementation during working hours and even created the first centralized training program.
Throughout the years, Arthur Andersen & Co grew into a reputable firm contributing to building high standards in the accounting industry. After Arthur died in 1947, the company was left in good shape, along with a promising future.
Until the 1980s, the accounting industry provided consultancy services, audits, accounting, and tax services. Around that time, Arthur Andersen & Co became Andersen Worldwide Societe Cooperative (AWSC) and soon followed the trend of offering IT consultancy services. By 1989, AWSC was divided into two units, Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting.
The Consulting part of the business constantly earned profits and supported Arthur Andersen. The practice ended in 2000 when Andersen Consulting was awarded $1.2 billion in past payments to Arthur Andersen and was granted independence and brand name copyright.
And on January 1, 2001, Andersen Consulting rebranded into Accenture.
First Years of Success
Starting with consultancy services on top of doing audits and taxes, Accenture was dedicated to offering innovative solutions to its clients.
From the beginning, Accenture and Microsoft created a joint venture, Avanade, to help global clients to optimize Microsoft investments. In 2004, the company launched the Procurement Business Process, providing sourcing-to-settlement services to corporate and government entities globally.
In 2009, Accenture launched a global mobility business that delivers new mobile apps to customers. By 2014, Accenture Digital was created as a joint venture with Siemens to combine digital marketing, analytics, and mobility.
In 2016, the company joined forces with SAP to accelerate the development of SAP S/4HANA for digital businesses and introduced AI, for the first time, in 2017. Come 2020, Accenture began to migrate clients to cloud systems and sealed its digital transformation.
First Troubles in Sight
The first two decades of its existence were challenging for the company.
In 2002, it became among the 4 companies out of 100 that were publicly traded.
Accenture was already operating under the control of its partners through a contracting mechanism with a Swiss coordinating entity before being moved to Bermuda.
In three years, Accenture signed a contract with the British National Health Service for an IT overhaul project but walked away with burned fingers. In 2006, the company pulled out of these 10-year contracts due to delivery failure.
In 2019, another $297 million contract got terminated, this time with the US Government. Accenture was supposed to recruit 7,500 Custom and Border Protection staff. However, it reportedly took longer to deliver than promised, thus terminating the contract. The wheel of trouble stopped turning for the company in 2020 when a newly appointed CEO, Julie Sweet, took over the reins and brought in a fresher perspective.
Accenture Plc Funding and Acquisitions
In its first year, Accenture Plc gained almost 5% in its market debut on the New York Stock Exchange and was ranked among the 200 largest companies.
Accenture sold 115 million shares after the initial public offering of $14.50 per share. This was the 6th largest IPO in the first half of that year, right behind KPMG.
The company also managed numerous acquisitions, starting with the acquisition of Symantec’s cybersecurity services division, Callisto Integration, and Byte Prophecy, an analytic company. Then came Imaginea Technologies, a cloud-native and agile development company, and Trivadis AG and AFD.TECH.
These acquired companies strengthen and broaden Accenture’s portfolio and enable the company to have access to numerous countries worldwide.
Numbers and Awards
For more than 10 years, the headquarters of Accenture has been located in Dublin. Furthermore, the company’s offices are in more than 50 countries worldwide, serving 7,000 clients. The value of Accenture is $170.3 billion, with a share value of $281 billion. Huge efforts for company transformation and building reputation resulted in Accenture being among the top 10 great places to work in Argentina, Brazil, France, India, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, the UK, and the US.
The company reached 33rd place on Fortune's list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. Last year, Accenture was ranked 258 among the Fortune Global 500 list and was named the world’s most admired Information Technology Services company.
Learning Agility is an Imperative
There are around 700,000 Accenture employees worldwide. That's 10 times more than in the year 2000. Of these Accenture employees, 200,000 are from the past year and a half alone. According to Julie Sweet, CEO of the company, the imperative when hiring new employees is their ability to learn. Of late, the environment is changing, so about 40% of the skills deemed important 5 years ago are no longer relevant.
So, learning agility is a must, regardless of the candidate's experience level or who they are. The company has used the pandemic as an opportunity to upskill about 100,000 employees and uses AI to identify potential candidates based on the skills they already have. The company constantly invests about $1 billion per year in employee training.
Accenture Metaverse and Future Outlook
Accenture believes that, in the next decade, all aspects of business and life will revolutionize. While the general public has a limited understanding of what the Metaverse does in terms of business, Accenture is ready to partake in this revolution. Interestingly, for the last 15 years, the company has been building leadership in Metaverse-related technologies.
With patents, metaverse-trained professionals, and market-leading capabilities on their belt, Accenture is ready to take on the universe through a different dimension. Looking back from where it all began, back to the 1920s, Accenture has taken drastic leaps towards improving itself and growing. And if Arthur Andersen could have his say on the company’s success, it is safe to assume he’d be proud as a peacock and cheering his team on!