PwC India Update: Sustained Outcomes and Trust
In early March, TBR met with Arnab Basu, PwC India’s Consulting leader, to discuss developments in India and how the firm’s presence and activities have changed in recent years. The following reflects that conversation, as well as TBR’s ongoing research around PwC, the other Big Four firms, and the broader management consulting and IT services market.
Diverse client base means plenty of opportunity in India
In describing the India market that PwC serves, Basu highlighted differences between five kinds of clients, starting with multinational companies, which are frequently very large not only globally but also locally within the growing India market. Basu said, as a distinct subset, global captive centers of large multinationals have become consulting buyers in their own right and are looking to PwC to advise on business process transformations.
India-based companies comprise a third set of clients, with many having global operations or aspirations and need services from PwC India and the greater PwC network of firms. Among those large India-based companies, Basu noted another subset: family-run and/or founder-run companies, which can be quite large but operate differently and with different consulting and technology needs than large publicly traded companies.
Lastly, Basu said the Indian government as a consulting buyer is simply too large to ignore, and PwC has focused on policy design and formulation and citizen-centric consulting, rather than large-scale systems integration work. He added that PwC has been selective in choosing which Indian states, districts and municipalities to work with, focusing on those that are more forward looking and digitally adept. In describing the demand for consulting, Basu said he’d seen a “perceptible shift” in consulting spend, with an uptick from privately held (family or founder) clients and multinational captive centers.
Overall, PwC has seen an increase in large transformation projects across supply chain, HR and finance, with the manufacturing sector particularly active, especially around industrial IoT (IIoT), connectivity and digital operations. While emerging areas may be faster growing, Basu added that customer experience — often the start of digital transformations — remains a massive investment area for many clients. Lastly, Basu said customers have increasingly pressed for outcomes-driven pricing, in part because of the mutual maturity around measuring outcomes and greater transparency.
Turning to the broader ecosystem, Basu commented that PwC India’s summer 2022 acquisition of Venerate Solutions, a Salesforce-centric boutique, demonstrated the firm’s commitment to growing its cloud capabilities tailored to serve India-based clients. Basu further noted that India-based technology companies increasingly serve as an alternative to global software vendors partly because of the local presence and knowledge but also because working with a local technology vendor appeals to India-based clients. Regarding cloud specifically, Basu cautioned that PwC would rather be focused on “transformative cloud” engagements than just handling “vanilla cloud migration.”
The New Equation resonates with India-based clients
Without prompting from TBR, Basu raised the topic of The New Equation, PwC’s nearly 2-year-old strategy, saying the core messages around sustained outcomes and trust resonate well with India-based clients.
In TBR’s view, The New Equation might be seen favorably in India because of two PwC India characteristics that came through in the discussion with Basu. First, India-based clients clearly believe the country’s economic success and growth potential warrant the same attention and quality of services prevalent in more mature markets, such as the U.S. and Europe.
Basu said India-based clients want the highest-quality advice and technologies and PwC can now bring global PwC SMEs to India-based clients more easily because of credibility built and remote working practices brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Basu also emphasized PwC’s brand as a leading management, technology and risk consultancy, which further appeals to India-based clients expecting world-class engagements. Second, Basu said PwC India focuses on bringing additional value and services to existing PwC clients. By concentrating on where the firm can have the greatest effect, PwC avoids being stretched beyond its capacity to sustain high-quality services. In short, PwC India’s clients see the sustained outcomes and the trusted relationships inherent in The New Equation.
TBR visited PwC India pre-pandemic and continues to track the firm’s performance, including semiannual deep dives into the firm as part of TBR’s Management Consulting Benchmark. In the coming months, TBR will further examine PwC’s cybersecurity services, alliances with the hyperscalers and other country-specific developments.
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