Accenture buying Cloud Sherpas unveils the value of As-a-Service talent
Accenture has added considerable strength to its already-strong position in Salesforce services with the addition of Cloud Sherpas for an undisclosed amount (press estimates have been $350-$400 Million) coming on the back of previous Salesforce services acquisitions of Tquila and ClientHouse GmbH. In addition, there are added capabilities in ServiceNow and Google, but the lion’s share of the Cloud Sherpas acquisition is in the Salesforce implementation domain, where we see the most medium-term growth opportunity for ambitious As-a-Service providers in the customer centricity solutions arena.
HfS views the success of this acquisition tied to Accenture's capability to integrate its capabilities across operations, consulting and systems integration and to use the core training and certification methodologies of Cloud Sherpas to transform Accenture’s own ability to grow Salesforce consulting, implementation and management talent.
However, if it only focuses on the low-hanging fruit – the systems integration – Accenture will fail to reap the full benefits of the investment, hence it is critical how it integrates the Cloud Sherpas talent across the core Accenture divisions, especially Accenture Operations and consulting. Accenture also needs to follow the mantra that As-a-Service is ultimately about empowering the customer, not the consultant.
In short, we believe this move not only consolidates Accenture’s already-strong position in Salesforce services, but also keeps out competitors from muscling into the space at a critical time, namely Deloitte, Capgemini and IBM.
As-a-Service can provide tremendous growth at scale potential like legacy ERP did, but the skill requirements are different
SaaS platforms like Salesforce and Workday might not be like traditional ERP platforms, but the commonality is still one of scale and skill. The difference is simply the type of skill requirement needed. With traditional ERP, enterprises need constant teams of engineers to mold the platforms to the business needs of the enterprise, whereas, with SaaS, they need teams of process and technical professionals to mold the enterprise to the SaaS standards and processes and make them effective. This is why we're seeing the global professional services giants eying teams of talented consultants and delivery staff who can do more than merely implement these popular platforms and respond to the customers' demands to have a post go-live partner.
The capability onus shifts firmly from the back office to middle/front offices to unleash future value
Ultimately, the enterprise will need less IT programmers to develop out a SaaS platform, but will increasingly need process experts and transformational minds to help them make maximum benefit from the SaaS functionality. The onus is shifting from back office engineering skills to middle/front office data science, design thinking capabilitles.
The real battleground in As-a-Service is emerging within business functions where there is no ceiling for innovation. With a process like payroll, for example, most enterprises can purchase the services they need to get the job done and provide the data they need to make decisions – they know what good looks like and can get there relatively quickly with the right As-a-Service provider.
Where this ceiling for innovation is limitless, is in processes such as sales and marketing, where the technology platform is the enabler for ambitious firms constantly pivoting to keep ahead of their customer demand and market shifts. Other functions with a high innovation potential include finance, workforce management and supply chain, where enterprises have a constant need to act
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Cloud Computing, CRM and Marketing