Much chatter in adland about the rise of the consultants – notably Accenture and Deloitte – with some (the holding companies) fearful of their inroads and others (smaller agencies and individuals) keen to see new buyers/employers.
But what exactly do they do that makes them so formidable?
Accenture Interactive (which now owns Karmarama and Australia’s The Monkeys among other creative agencies) is ranked as the world’s biggest digital agency although much of what it does isn’t advertising (but that applies to many holding company digital agencies too).
One of its clients is Pearson, once a blue-blooded UK media owner owning the Financial Times, half The Economist and even Chateau Latour. Then, under Marjorie Scardino it transformed itself into an education company, flogging pricey textbooks to schools and universities.
Along came the digital revolution and, as in so many other media-ish business, margins took a powder, something Pearson is still struggling with today.
Send for Accenture Interactive. The company has created what it calls a “new digital customer experience,” more precisely a website and content publishing platform giving customers a single “front door” to access all Pearson’s products and services. This is called OneDotCom.
This will reduce by half more than 400,000 pages of content and 15,000 domains and sites (15,000!), to help students and educators find information more easily. It will also cut publishing time by half to ensure product and service information are available more quickly. Or so they claim.
Pearson CMO Kate James says: “We operate in a world where students and educators want to quickly access and use our products and services through digital channels. We are on a continuous mission to transform our business to meet these demands and developing OneDotCom is an important step in designing a more relevant experience for learners and educators.”
Seems fair enough; given all those websites perhaps long overdue. Could a holding company owned digital agency, or independent, do the same?
Probably they could but Accenture has the scale and depth (over 400,000 staff in all) to persuade clients that it’s the right safe (and innovative no doubt) pair of hands. And this sounds a huge project, one that could make or break Pearson.
From this it’s not a huge step to persuade said clients that they should also trust Accenture Interactive with their marketing and advertising. In the case of a project like OneDotCom Accenture consultants will probably ending up writing the marketing brief anyway.
So it’s a good example of the type of challenge the consultants pose for agencies, however big and well resourced the agencies are.