Accenture (nee Andersen Consulting) Marries New Business Model to Make its Mark

  • Written By: E. Robins
  • Published: January 30 2001

The Accenture Name

The creation of Accenture from the foundations of Andersen Consulting following the arbitrators report (see TEC's "Implications and Attitudes As the Andersen's Split under the ICC Ruling: Consulting To Go for a Name Change" ) may not have been a market tsunami in terms of the name, but the progress the company has made toward meeting the market's needs and trends - and communicating its new branding - has distinguished it as an organization that shows it can deliver, even impressively for itself.

The name change alone was a worldwide undertaking involving the hunt for something that would cross the boundaries of all cultures, borders and language groups without meeting the tart problems others now face. For example, means "dirty old man" in Chinese, something I am sure the original founders of the company did not intend. Corporate mottos can also can get into some trouble, for example, again in Chinese, "Come alive from the Pepsi generation" means Pepsi "brings your ancestors back from the grave", while Perdue's motto "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," translates in Spanish to "It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused."

It must have taken some hard thinking to achieve Accenture's new motto - "Now it gets interesting" - something which hopefully does not have any odd connotations in the 65 or so languages Accenture needs to cover. Given Accenture's record in verbal research, one would be pretty sure that they have navigated this course to an optimal solution.

The method to select the name was no easy matter, and perhaps it is worth repeating from an earlier TEC article. Because of a past desire to change names, a master list of some 5000 names had already been drawn up. The rest was an ambitious and coordinated effort to trim the list using internal legal resources and 25 external law firms around the world, employing language specialists to check for offensive meanings in 50 countries and 65 languages, and checking across seven or eight different classes of trade. The effort also generated around 3,000 trademark reports. Additionally, they did 'blind testing' of thirty of the names with a number of clients and potential clients, and Accenture was the highest rated out of those. The result of all this narrowed the list down to 50. More trademark checks shortened it down to 10, and then finally a subcommittee reduced it to 4. "Accenture" was picked the winner on the announcement day, October 26. It was quite an effort and accomplishment in 80 days for the organization.

The Accenture Transformation

The name Accenture, created by Kim Petersen, a senior manager in Oslo, Norway, was meant to inspire a sense of 'adventure' and an accent on the 'future'. This seems to have been the course Andersen (at the time) was heading. A quick view of Accenture's website at shows the change from the rather dull or tired four tiered platform of Technology, Change Management, Strategy and Process of a year ago to a new set of services under the two banners of Business Consulting and Technology Business Solutions: it spells out the new world of Accenture.

As with EDS and other competitors, Accenture is looking at providing more packaged and business system solutions - enabled in large part by a measure of established internal knowledge management systems, intellectual property, and new out-of-the box technologies. Its technology partners are acting as an enablement in this regard, with the likes of tools and platforms such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Siebel (NASDAQ:SEBL), Blue Martini (NASDAQ: BLUE), and (dare we think) SAP (NYSE: SAP). Such business consulting service lines as "Business Launch Centres", "Strategy & Business Architecture" or "Solutions Engineering Service Line" give a real feel for this new perception of business systems engineering, where businesses, like naval warships, are designed from the ground up for one or more targeted missions. Today, it is the tandem of business concepts embodied and empowered by technology that drives the corporations of tomorrow - and the careers of Accenture's 70,000 personnel.

Additionally, its focus is on driving forward as a "network of businesses" rather than a "one company" face with a single framework, raises the old concept of a collective of independent partners - a time honored tradition that has worked for accounting firms and cooperatives alike (take a look for Mondragon in a past TEC article). The concept, expressly given in Accenture's new brochure, extends to creating new companies - if that is what it takes to serve its clients. Two examples of this new direction occurred last year with the creation of Avanade, a company focused on delivering Microsoft platform solutions, and Accenture Technology Ventures, directed at delivering investment instruments for budding companies. A third component in this mix is establishing operational companies for the benefit of one or more specific clients. In the words of Joe Forehand, CEO of Accenture, " we are helping our clients create innovative solutions for the future"

User Recommendations

As Accenture ploughs into the future with its new business in hand, the company will continue to change and extend to new business lines and directions. Its focus will remain in business related technology consulting, and will be a force to reckon with. It's flexible approach is preparing it for the twenty-first century where fluid and adaptable business models are likely to be the norm, not the exception.

A systems approach to engineering complete businesses is becoming an accepted and real process, largely because technology as a business enabler is generally a well-defined architectural structure, a structure in which the pieces are increasingly becoming integrated (hence EAI). Businesses are becoming - and will increasingly be - more reliant on technology enablers. Accenture's business approach is in keeping with this trend. User's should consider partners that have the capabilities of delivering business systems rather than business piecemeal solutions.

Many organizations will hang together through their internal technological capabilities (such as knowledge and workflow nets) and virtual business connection webs in their industry supply chain. This contrasts with traditional more centralized hierarchical management and workflow controls and external processes incorporating relationships to suppliers, buyers and consumers.

Many users may find this business model works for them, and an architectural design for a web of interrelated businesses may be something to contemplate as your businesses develop around technology enablers. This of course is not true for all industries - there's still plenty of room for the old.

If you intend to deal internationally - remember the lessons of, Pepsi and Perdue!

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