BearingPoint’s bold triple bet on cars

Can the Europe-centric consultancy lead the race to remake the automotive industry?

In recent years, as nearly every IT services vendor and consultancy has attached itself to an automotive sector client and touted their industry expertise, TBR has followed the routes those vendors have taken and which aspects of the car industry they have focused on. In broad strokes, consultancies and IT services vendors help their automotive clients in one or more of three areas: 1) AI and autonomous vehicles; 2) customization, customer mobility and brand; and/or 3) Manufacturing 4.0. For example, last fall, TBR spoke at length with Accenture about the company’s new efforts in Stuttgart, Germany, which mostly fell into the second category. Cutting across all three areas, trends in car ownership, transportation, ride sharing, car sharing, and privacy and data sharing have sustained opportunities for consulting, with anticipated large-scale implementations and managed services to follow.

In a recent discussion with BearingPoint, TBR learned the automotive sector would be a priority over the next few years, as the firm has recognized changes that affect the industry, such as climate change, air pollution, buyer needs and behaviors, mobility services, parking “as a Service,” and car rental “as a Service,” to name a few, were forcing changes in the business models for every supplier, maker, advertiser and buyer involved. With established relationships with all the major car manufacturers in Europe, as well as a legacy working with manufacturers across the continent, BearingPoint will do what almost no other consultancy or IT services vendor has done: organically build an automotive practice that tackles all three areas — AI and autonomous vehicles, customer experience and brand, and Manufacturing 4.0 — and place that business group among the firm’s highest priorities.

TBR will watch BearingPoint’s progress closely, in part as a component of our ongoing management consulting research, which includes a detailed profile on BearingPoint. Secondly, we want to see if a consultancy or IT services firm can balance serving the three elements of the automotive sector we have outlined. Many vendors have developed strengths in one or two areas, but no one vendor has applied consistent, sustained and leadership-supported investments in all three. It is a tough road. Let’s see if BearingPoint can navigate it.  

EY and technology: Embedding AI and moving beyond trust

Taking AI further

EY’s “six habits” study provides detailed information and assessments of digital transformation leaders’ best practices as well as “actions for the boardroom,” such as “create a culture of continuous learning” and “embed innovation with corporate governance.” In previewing the study, TBR noted that the recommendations for boards to consider when accelerating AI — “assess the current state,” “integrate AI into core” and “measure AI benefits” — perfectly mirror EY’s own consulting offerings around AI. In discussing AI further, Higgins and Little explained that the firm has been applying AI when making its own financial forecasting and HR management decisions, providing additional insights into how different solutions could be rolled out to clients. Little made explicit that the firm would “build AI into every solution we have,” laying down a clear marker of the firm’s bet on emerging technologies. The firm has been trying to move away from the historical consulting and systems integration approach of putting many people on projects and would instead be adopting more agile sprint methodologies, automation and AI. A concerted effort to embed AI both internally and in every solution built for clients echoes TBR’s November 2019 Digital Transformation Insights Report: Emerging Technology, which noted that, “to capitalize on the cost savings generated by AI, vendors must shift their value proposition toward navigating clients’ technical and business change management obstacles to implement solutions, a strategy requiring continued investment in consulting expertise.”

Building better ecosystems

In discussing changes to the partnering ecosystem for all consultancies and IT services vendors, TBR has emphasized the need for re-evaluation and constant management of alliances, particularly as the technology vendors themselves change their own partnering models and go-to-market approaches. EY has stepped ahead of this change, recognizing the firm needed to evolve its traditional partner program into strategic ecosystem management.

In February EY released a new study on the “six habits of digital transformation leaders,” based on a survey of global CEOs and board members. TBR spoke with Jim Little, EY’s global Microsoft Alliance lead and EY Americas Technology Strategy lead, and Dan Higgins, EY’s global Technology Consulting leader, to gain additional insights and comments on the study, as well as to understand how the firm has shifted its internal operations and strategy around technology. TBR has attended multiple EY events in the last few years, including those geared specifically toward highlighting the firm’s technology practice. Based on those events and the March 2020 discussions with Little and Higgins, TBR believes EY has substantially changed its approach to technology consulting, from enabled to embedded and scalable, which will increasingly expand the firm’s opportunities with global clients, potentially at the expense of traditionally more technology-centric competitors, such as Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and Deloitte. Little and Higgins explained that EY fully intended to embrace a new strategy around technology, with solutions designed for reach and scale, a brand seeking to move beyond trust, and an ecosystem managed to “create real outcomes” for clients.

Proximity or scale? Will Latin America’s startup scene challenge India’s?

Here’s a simple question: Can a startup scene in nearshore Americas rival the one in India? Could countries and markets geographically closer to the U.S. provide the kind of energy and entrepreneurship coming from India, particularly in emerging technologies?

A few weeks ago, TBR analysts spoke at length with a PwC partner in India about the startup community and learned how a few key elements have been coming together in recent years to make that country a growing hub for digital transformation innovations. And recently, we noticed a Nearshore America’s piece on the innovation investment in Latin America that made us consider how the two regions compare.

India has some distinct advantages, particularly as digital transformation begins to mature and offshoring, scale and agility become critical to sustained success in delivering IT services enabled by emerging technologies. India also has an education system naturally geared to support a global, English-speaking technology environment, plus increasing support from two different groups: global consultancies looking for creativity and international venture investors and banks looking for new and fast-growing revenue streams.

The questions for Latin America-based startups and their various backers, including local, regional and federal governments trying to incubate and accelerate innovation, likely do not center on competitors two continents away, especially as those startups remain focused mostly on their own markets. But both startup scenes look to the same global markets for investors, clients and, eventually, scale, so IT and emerging tech startups in Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Peru need to consider how they compare and what will drive additional — global and sustained — interest and investment.

In early 2020 TBR will speak with consulting and IT services leaders across major vendors, including Accenture, PwC, EY and IBM, about their experiences in and expectations for the Latin America startup and innovation scene, where they see opportunities, and how global firms weigh the potential returns on investment in that region compared to in India.

Top growing consultancies lean into emerging technologies

Twice a year TBR publishes its Management Consulting Benchmark, which provides key service line, regional, vertical and operational data and analysis for 13 leading management consulting vendors. The benchmark also includes deep dives into 11 of the 13 vendors. This week, TBR will publish insights into two of those vendors: IBM and EY.

IBM is using its advisory, digital design and technology expertise to win and execute holistic transformational projects and drive management consulting revenue growth in 2019. Value-led and IBM-asset-powered solutions; collaborative innovation, such as in the IBM Garage facilities; and management consulting expertise and talent, such as in Global Business Services’ Digital Strategy & iX, Cognitive Process Transformation and Cloud Application Innovation segments enable IBM Services to position as a digital reinvention partner for clients’ cognitive enterprise journeys.”
Elitsa Bakalova, Senior Analyst

EY positions for growth using client touchpoints and technology partners, supporting portfolio evolution. Additionally, use of wavespaces and centers throughout Europe creates the opportunity for EY to increase adoption among existing clients, of its blockchain and AI technology, and grows market awareness among nonclients of the breadth of EY’s technology capabilities.” — Kelly Lesiczka, Analyst

Additionally, join TBR’s Professional Services team Oct. 16 for a webinar and Q&A on India-centric vendors, including how they compare to leading IT services vendors and which IT services vendors have the most to lose due to sustained success among those that are India-centric.

Interested in learning more about the Management Consulting Benchmark and accompanying vendor profiles? Contact TBR today!

Kick-starting innovation takes smart thinking, not just action

An innovation leader at a fast-growing Europe-centric consultancy shared with me tactics his firm uses to make its innovation engagements creative and pragmatic, with principles centered on adding real business value while capturing as much opportunity as possible for meaningful change.

First, pick one area to innovate, based largely on where you can expect value to come from. This echoes the age-old advice to search for what’s missing where it likely is, not where the lighting is best. And it echoes a recent theme we’re hearing from consulting and IT services vendors that clients need help making choices, not just understanding what choices they have.

Second, assemble the micro-learnings — the initial ideas and concepts — just to get people thinking, which I think reflects a trend of consultancies intentionally leaning away from “design thinking” as a term of art, while keeping the principles in place. Get creative, with purpose, but don’t get locked into an over-hyped and little-understood approach.

The third ingredient is multiple points of views, far wider than the perspectives of clients and their clients. If you’re considering supply chain, seek views from the HR managers at your client’s supplier. If you’re in the pharma space, talk to nurses actually distributing the meds. We’ve heard multiple stories of consultancies taking extra steps toward understanding a client’s ecosystem, but typically, this takes place when a minimum viable product is being tested, rather than early in the thinking-and-design phase.

Finally, when it comes to building something to test, focus on testing, whether you’re innovating around the right problem with the right idea, rather than the specific product or solution. Again, we’ve seen plenty of innovation engagements that move to testing and become too focused on the technology and making it work, not evaluating, continually, whether the innovation is being applied to the real problem.

Thinking on this discussion and reflecting on the last year of discussing innovation — as an offering, as an element of what consultancies and IT services vendors bring to their clients — we’re considering how to more fully capture innovation within the larger context of digital transformation. Look for specific assessments of innovation in the upcoming Digital Transformation Insights reports and the supporting vendor-specific quarterly reports, including Accenture, IBM Services and Management Consulting Benchmark Profiles for PwC, EY and McKinsey & Co.

WWT’s innovation center shines a spotlight on the company’s evolution from product reseller to outcome enabler

The rise of the innovation center as a platform for digital storytelling

Enabling customers’ digital transformations has become the holy grail opportunity for companies across the technology ecosystem. In a world in which everyone from server and storage vendors to technical services providers professes to be a “technology solutions provider,” marketing alone is insufficient to convince customers to entrust their digital futures to just a run-of-the-mill technology company. TBR’s research on the private and public sector consulting and IT services providers that typically deliver the expertise necessary to enable transformation shows that to do digital effectively for customers, providers must be digital internally.

Being digital means engaging in self-disruption by integrating internally the same innovative technologies that customers demand externally. It means adopting cloud operating models, developing IP and embracing new monetization cycles. These are difficult tasks, and not all technology companies are up to the challenge. Those that let fear paralyze action face the prospect of becoming irrelevant as more adventurous competitors build credibility around customer zero use cases leveraging partner-developed technology and come to clients armed with their own digital transformation success stories. Customers do not always care about a provider’s platinum-level certification from vendor X, Y or Z, but they will likely find something compelling in a provider’s story about navigating their own self-disruptions.

If customer zero is the story that successful services providers tell clients, then innovation centers are the stage on which the story is told. Innovation centers, digital studios, design studios, centers of excellence: There are almost as many names for these centers as there are examples of companies integrating them into their sales and marketing efforts. While it began with the leading consultancies, the innovation center trend has proliferated across all corners of the IT sector. A key component of providers’ overall innovation programs, the innovation center is where technology providers make digital transformation tangible for their customers. Innovation centers offer a neutral space to discuss business outside typical office settings, bring stakeholders to the table to identify and find solutions to problems, and develop blueprints for a successful transformation, enabled by collaboration between provider and customer. Innovation centers, when run correctly, evolve the conversation from one between buyer and seller to one between equal partners co-invested in enabling a successful digital initiative.

TBR recently spoke with World Wide Technology’s senior vice president of public sector sales, Bryan Thomas, to discuss the technology solutions provider’s new innovation center in Washington, D.C., and its connection to the company’s Advanced Technology Center in St. Louis. The conversation focused on how these centers improve client engagement and enhance go-to-market performance, as well as the importance of expert talent and the shift toward a consulting-led model to meet the specific mission objectives of federal clients.

BearingPoint offers collaborative transformation that integrates advisory services and solutions

BearingPoint is transforming from a consulting company that delivers services in a traditional way into a company that is flexible in the way it works with clients and values innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship. In a discussion, BearingPoint’s new Managing Partner Kiumars Hamidian stated, “We try to reduce the use of PowerPoint with clients,” which essentially leads to increased interactions during the proposal and solution development phases. On the other hand, BearingPoint is increasing its use of collaborative activities with clients and encouraging people to bring their best ideas, often using design thinking and agile-based methodologies. BearingPoint places innovation at the center of its activities across its three business pillars — Consulting, Solutions and Ventures — utilizing its “Be an Innovator” process to generate ideas for new services. The company uses IP assets such as accelerators, as well as incubators and ventures, to drive innovation.

BearingPoint is a European consulting company with global market reach

Executing on its three priorities — markets, portfolio and people — and utilizing its three business pillars will enable BearingPoint to continue to grow revenues and reach its 2020 overall revenue goal of €1 billion (or $1.2 billion). On the markets side, BearingPoint positions as an independent and partner-owned management and technology consulting company that has European roots and global reach and enables clients predominantly in its core European territory to become global leaders. Utilizing its European market reach and a new design and brand profile that emphasizes creativity, innovation, and a collaborative, agency-like approach, BearingPoint is set to attract such clients. As BearingPoint updates its brand profile to represent the company’s diversity, its bold, fresh and modern character will likely lead to growth opportunities, especially in new digital segments. To serve clients outside its core territory, BearingPoint utilizes its Global Reach Offices in Dallas and Shanghai and expands its global market reach through consulting and technology partnerships, such as with West Monroe Partners in North America, ABeam Consulting in APAC and Grupo ASSA in LATAM.



BearingPoint selected Lisbon, Portugal, as the host city for its Analyst Summit 2018. The event, which was held on Oct. 11, was not a traditional analyst day, as it was held at a former needle manufacturing facility, rather than in a conference room, and the vendor refrained from using PowerPoints to display its capabilities. Instead, the vendor transformed the facility to use personalized setups and spark attendees’ imaginations, and it relied on engaging conversations to gain the attention of the audience. The agenda was rich in topics, ranging from strategic and business overviews to five client case representatives talking onstage about their work with BearingPoint. The company also used a mobile app that was specifically developed for the event to provide personalized information about the event, share files and take live polls of the audience, which further enhanced engagement with the audience.

Creating innovation; creating clients

A New Thing: BearingPoint ‘At the Heart of Innovation’

“I came in with absolute clarity about what my challenge was, and now I don’t know.” After two days of large-group discussions on the fundamentals of innovation and small-group challenges putting those fundamentals to the test, one participant at a recent BearingPoint innovation event seemingly lamented having gone backward and away from solutions. However, the participant quickly followed up that “I don’t know” comment by explaining how examining her company’s and her own individual challenges revealed an incredible complexity — but the presence and guidance of an established consultancy provided reassurance that complexity could be managed and innovation started, if not guaranteed to bring success. Every consulting client should be so thoroughly uncertain about their problems while comforted knowing they’ve got help at the ready.

TBR perspective: Diversity, subtlety and the art of consulting

The entire event accentuated uncertainty, but with a sense that innovation challenges can be solved, creating an ideal hunting ground for consulting opportunities. BearingPoint strengthened advocates for innovation while consistently and subtly reminding those advocates that they would need help. By building toward a workable solution to a real-world innovation challenge, BearingPoint used a velvet hammer to reinforce that “you can change, you must change, and change requires consulting.”

TBR includes coverage of BearingPoint in our Management Consulting Benchmark, and the most recent profile, published in April, noted that “as a business and technology consulting firm [positioned] for predominantly EMEA clients, BearingPoint will continue to attract clients with holistic consult-build-run solutions across its three business pillars — Consulting, Solutions and Ventures — to enable clients’ business transformations through advanced technologies. BearingPoint’s agile offerings in its three primary business units and local market expertise will resonate well in the EMEA market and support the company’s growth over the next two years.” This innovation event reinforced TBR’s assessment of BearingPoint’s ability to see its approach and offerings resonate well with existing clients and very likely continue to lure new clients away from traditional European and global consulting competitors. BearingPoint has not built its own innovation/collaboration/experience center and the firm’s overall approach at the innovation event remained subtle throughout the two and a half days — but BearingPoint’s effort was effective and highly replicable, and the lasting impact will likely be measurable by the firm’s 2019 growth.

Customer IoT maturity: A key market driver

One of the most important governing factors in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) is the maturity of the companies considering, buying and implementing IoT. While these companies have varying degrees of maturity in IT and in operational technology (OT), maturity in implementing IoT is a different matter, requiring additional organizational capabilities. This report looks at IoT maturity — what it is, how it can be assessed, and what the implications are for vendors and for the market.

It’s hard to grow up in IoT

One of the most important governing factors in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) is the maturity of the companies considering, buying and implementing IoT. Vendors can improve their go-to-market (GTM) tactics by varying their approach to potential customers with different degrees of maturity. Assessment of maturity helps in predicting and targeting growth opportunities in vertical and geographic market segments.

A mature process for a single IoT solution is easy to describe but challenging to carry out. A team including members with business knowledge, operations technology knowledge and IT knowledge works together through the process of problem selection, solution design, solution implementation, and ongoing solution operation and refinement. As most IoT implementations present opportunities for enhancement and further integration, the team continues to work together indefinitely.

For an organization to be mature in IoT, it must be able to sustain multiple projects, at different phases in different parts of the organization and at varying levels of scale. The projects must be compliant with company and regulatory policies, secure and, ideally, scalable and efficient, leveraging to the extent possible organizational resources and standard practices. The data generated by the IoT projects must be secure, but it must also be visible and available to others in the organization who could benefit.

Additionally, the mature IoT organization keeps the process of continual distributed innovation going, with employees throughout the organization actively looking for opportunities to improve operations using IoT, as well as other innovative technologies. While encouraging broad innovation, the organization manages, prioritizes, allocates resources for and socializes the projects.

The organization described above is an ideal, but comparing an organization with this standard helps us know at what level a business is operating in IoT. This ideal process applies not only to IoT but also to all projects leveraging new technologies.

For vendors, IoT maturity can help with identifying potential customers and approaching prospects. With mature customers coordinating multiple IoT projects, there is the opportunity to be included in the company’s portfolio of vetted preferred vendors or products. With a less mature customer, the best outcome is engagement in a single IoT project. These two different scenarios demand different messaging, sales tactics and, sometimes, offerings.

In a growing market — and IoT will be growing for a very long time — the trailing edge is always much larger than the leading edge. Even as the average level of maturity increases, most target customers will be on the less-mature end of the spectrum. Vendors and offerings that fit the needs of the target market, including simplicity, extensive support and membership in robust partnerships, will have an advantage. Offerings that help develop the customer, moving them up the maturity ladder, will also have an advantage.

IoT maturation isn’t about the technology of IoT; it’s about businesses developing their capability to leverage technologies and techniques that are increasingly applicable to an increasing number of business problems. The same maturation encompasses things like analytics and artificial intelligence, blockchain, edge computing, and mobile computing. Looking at customers and prospects in terms of maturity in leveraging technology helps in selling and delivering technology products that drive businesses forward.