Cognizant announces record Q4 results
It’s been over a year since we spoke to Cognizant Business Consulting: a highly rated consultancy firm with the backing of a major US IT services player, whose ambition is not just to join the “top table” of Tier 1 consulting firms but also to offer its own distinctive take on what a world-class advisory organisation should be like.
Since then it has achieved exceptional year-on-year growth as can be seen from the key stats from Q4: ‘Quarterly revenue rose to $1.95 billion, up 17.1% from the year-ago quarter and 3.0% sequentially and year-end headcount was approximately 156,700. Overall, it has achieved industry leading growth of 20% within a tough climate, which is testament of its strong business model.’
This performance has fed into wider recognition among clients and consultants alike.
“Analysts are saying we are getting our consultancy model right and people want to be somewhere exciting,” explains Mike Hunter, CBC’s head of European consulting. “We’re going out and hiring a lot of talent at partner level.”
What’s “right” about CBC is its very clear remit within the wider organisaton:
“We’re not like our competitors where IT services have moved into consultancy and clouded the dividing line between business and IT. That’s been very good for attracting great clients; we’re more able to achieve thought leadership through the types of people we’ve brought on board.”
This is what, Hunter believes, makes the organisation more than a “me-too” play:
“The consultants I really respect are the ones who can tell me tomorrow’s problems, what tomorrow’s business will look like,” he says. “We call this the Future of Work—it’s the way we look at the future of things like retail and banking, what’s driving certain industries, who are the people who want to be radical, the people like Google and Apple.”
This feeds into what Hunter describes as business without boundaries—which in turn calls for advice without boundaries.
“The client doesn’t care—within reason—where they are getting their though leadership from—there’s much more virtualisation, people are more mobile,” he says. “The boundaries have broken down.”
This is not an all or nothing approach: within organisations there are clearly different level of take-up of things like mobile devices and social media, and the pursuit of innovation for its own sake can be destructive of shareholder value.
“As we talk to clients we need to explain the art of the possible,” says Hunter. “Innovation can be a scary thing in the wrong place: we also need to look at the consequences of not doing it.”
This focus on the future, backed by research, is opening new doors for CBC:
“The CIO has typically been our friend but increasingly we want to dive into the business,” he says. A recent client was part-way through a transition programme but wanted to talk to someone about where the business might be in three years time.
“That’s classic McKinsey stuff, but they said can you talk about what’s the future regarding things like Epos and multichannel coupon redemption and we were able to do that through the research we’ve done, the clients we talk to, the way we gather information.
The other side of the coin is delivery: Hunter uses last year’s Olympic Games as an example: while that had some “seriously sexy” technological innovations the organising committee was also in a position where it had to demand absolute guarantees of delivery.
“When people who are looking at innovative ideas want absolute guarantees of delivery speculative spending is very difficult,” he says.
Part of the solution to that dilemma was the acquisition of programme management specialists PIPC, now fully integrated into the business and managing over £10bn worth of programmes. The other is backing the thought leadership behind Future of Work with analytic tools that can simulate the impacts on the business of simulation.
With CBC’s delivery of consultancy also becoming more virtual, so that it can make better use of its global roster of experts, Hunter believes the traditional dynamic of consultancy is changing.
“We can leverage the smarter people, we’re no longer constrained by having one expert in North America who people might want to be in Dallas and London at the same time,” he says. “Everywhere you go you’ve got a TV screen, all our senior people have video links at home, we have presence suites—we’ve invested to be more virtual but it’s always got to be a combination of the two in consultancy, you can’t do away with the personal touch.”
The next milestone for CBC is to continue to build the scale in the international consultancy market to meet people’s expectations. On the thought leadership front it will continue to expand the Future of Work programme so that they can talk about the concepts to clients in all of the sectors they serve.
“We’re also going to be very active in the acquisitions market, says Hunter. “But our number one priority is hiring and retaining top talent. The plan is that the majority of the growth will actually come from organic growth, rather than acquisitions, which will be a smaller percentage.”
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All views expressed in this article are those of Mick James and do not necessarily reflect the views of Top-Consultant.com and Consultant-News.com.
Contact Mick with your views or suggestions at: [email protected].