Google alliance strengthens PwC’s strategy-through-execution promise

On Oct. 27 and 28, PwC and Google executives described a new global joint business relationship combining PwC’s industry expertise and global reach with Google’s widely used technology, particularly Google for Work and Google Cloud. PwC partners said the relationship was predicated on the trust PwC clients put in the audit, tax and consulting firm, and the trust PwC has in Google Cloud. Beyond PwC’s initial adoption of Google for Work, both companies expect to leverage each other’s strengths in helping clients adapt to disruptive market forces and innovate for growth. While the Google-PwC alliance potentially provides additional motivation for enterprise clients to move to Google for Work and Google Cloud, PwC’s two-day-long analyst conference highlighted PwC’s more immediate focuses: the emergence of PwC Digital, PwC’s consulting approach coalescing around Strategy& and a commitment to improved talent management. These elements will shape how well PwC competes in the near term with peers such as Deloitte and competitors such as Accenture and McKinsey.

Event overview

PwC hosted more than 50 industry analysts for a two-day-long review of the firm’s financial performance to date and its strategy for 2015. The event coincided with PwC’s partnership announcement with Google. In one-on-one meetings with TBR, PwC leaders detailed the firm’s expectations, concerns and plans for tackling a substantial transformation of PwC’s U.S. — and eventually global — partnership.

Impact and opportunities

PwC and Google: Trust and scale

Through the new joint business relationship, Google benefits from customers’ inherent trust in PwC’s brand, global reach, deep industry knowledge, and history of tax, audit and consulting engagements. In return, PwC gets Google’s scale and access to Google’s leading-edge technology. Although the relationship is still in the framework-and-strategy phase, PwC executives promised the firm would join with Google to build industry-specific solutions and apps, with Google bringing platform and IT expertise and PwC providing industry expertise and access to enterprise-level clients. PwC executives stressed that a long-term goal is to help clients become more comfortable with cloud. PwC’s decision to move the U.S. and Australia practices to Google for Work is testimony to PwC’s confidence in Google’s security and capabilities — and recognition that these platforms are substantially mature and adequately secure. PwC will tell clients the firm went to Google Cloud and clients should also migrate to the more secure, more reliable and more efficient platform.

PwC partners told TBR use of Google for Work and the joint business relationship mark huge bets for the firm — but the firm expects to know quickly if it was the right bet. While the industry-centric solutions development aspect echoes SAP’s and Accenture’s similar plans announced in March, the larger commitment to the cloud and PwC’s expanded relationship with Google raises market awareness of the increasing ease of leveraging cloud, mobile, analytic and other technologies in the face of disruption to current business models.

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