StrateTalk No. 3: Mark Foster, Group Chief Executive – Global Markets And Management Consulting, Accenture

StrateTalks (Strategy Talks) are summaries of my in-person exchanges with leaders at service and solution providers.

[05/13/10] It was 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning when I checked out of the hotel and headed to Prudential Tower, where Accenture’s Boston office is located.

On the way there, I saw Mark Foster walking in front of me.

Mark joined Accenture in 1983 and has been the group chief executive for Accenture’s management consulting growth platform (technology and business process outsourcing [BPO] represent the two other growth platforms at Accenture) since 2006. However, Mark not only oversees the management consulting business but is also responsible for the growth, differentiation, and innovation agenda for Accenture overall.

He was also the person I was scheduled to meet at 7:00 a.m. to discuss Accenture’s strategy for innovating itself. Over the course of several meetings with executives of the management consulting leadership team, I identified some interesting ongoing initiatives intended to drive Accenture’s differentiation. I’d been wondering if these initiatives were just brewing in isolation or were really part of an overall strategy. This was the reason I needed to talk with Mark.

I called out to Mark; he turned around and greeted me. Together, we walked to the Prudential Tower, passed security, and took the elevator up to the Accenture floor.

What interests me about Accenture, besides the obvious facts around strategy, service portfolio, and go-to-market approach, is its culture — the true source for innovation and differentiation for any company. Accenture’s culture is in my opinion very consistent. If you talk to a consultant, manager, or an executive such as Mark, all reflect this open and collaborative culture.

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Accenture Sets Up Software Division

Yesterday at its annual analyst meeting, Accenture unveiled its new software group.  Yes, the company has formally set up a software organization to sell packages and SaaS offerings. The group was internally established back in September 2009, but publically launched this week.  The group has 48 products, 36 of which are vertical packages that Accenture has done on its own; the remainder are enhancements to existing packages from vendors like Oracle and SAP. The vertical packages include freight and logistics, hotel property management, and a claims components solution. Sample “enhancements” cover P&C billing with SAP, banking with both SAP and Oracle, and a human capital management offering with SAP. The numbers on the group: the offerings cover 8 industry segments and it has 2,000 people and claims that it has signed 600 deals where there is an explicit software license. There are 12-15 software factories in support of 48 products. This is an extreme example of the standardized offerings that services vendors will bring out as the market evolves.