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Accenture 1.0 - Still No SaaS Innovation

Traditional on-premise systems integrators like Accenture will embrace SaaS - at a snail's pace. We highlighted the macro level impact of SaaS on Global SIs in a February piece entitled Services 2.0 - A New World for Systems Integrators. This week's press release from Accenture demonstrated the accuracy of our conclusions.
The release never mentions SaaS, has no customer references, but does incorporate nearly every tech buzzword possible. Our favorite paragraph:
“Aligning IT with business strategy has, once again, become a top issue for companies worldwide,” said William D. Green, Accenture’s chairman & CEO. “To address this, we are enhancing the end-to-end services we offer through Accenture Technology Consulting, an organization within our Systems Integration & Technology growth platform.”

When wasn't aligning IT and the business a top priority ? What changed Accenture's mind and led them to spend $250 million to now make it a priority? Services 2.0 firms and their customers understand that SaaS eliminates unnecessary time and money spent on low level technical infrastructure and increases the ability of IT to work alongside the business to rapidly deliver value.

To the extent that the Accenture release addresses any IT marketplace changes, it highlights the emptiness of Accenture's previous commitments - including those made at Dreamforce 2006, the annual user conference. Bob Suh, Accenture's "chief technology strategist," told 6,000 attendees that Accenture was pledging $450 million to its SOA and on-demand software practice, and that they were "committed to building applications for the AppExchange and to training their team on Apex." Let's try to reconcile this with facts from the "Real World":
  • More "Investment" or No Investment: Is this week's $250 million on top of the $450 million commitment from October 2006, or just the funds left over for a recycled press release? Is the omission of on-demand and SaaS in this release intentional, to avoid upsettingAccenture's many on-premise strategic partners that fuel billions of dollars in annual consulting revenue?
  • 8 Months, No AppExchange Applications: In 8 months since Dreamforce, how many applications has Accenture launched on the AppExchange? Zero. (Just search for "Accenture" on the AppExchange home page.) In contrast, the five leading Services 2.0 companies - Appirio, Astadia Bluewolf, ModelMetrics and Okere - have 24 applications available to customers - and these 5 firms have not invested $450 million to get them there!
  • Ignoring the Customer: Recently Appirio has been involved in a RFP process for a Fortune 1000 customer, competing with several other firms for a 200-seat rollout. The customer provided over 1,000 well-defined requirements and a clearly defined process. Four Services 2.0 firms followed the process, submitting creative SaaS-based solutions and providing compelling oral presentations. Accenture was invited, but as the customer described, they ignored the requirements and proscribed process, submitted a canned presentation on why Accenture is a global power (i.e. invited the team to meet Tiger Woods ;-), and left behind a 1-page pricing proposal far higher than any of the other bids. The customer threw outAccenture's bid immediately, without even inviting them to deliver a oral presentation. As Services 2.0-savvy managers take the IT reins at large companies around the world, it's going to take a Services 2.0 approach to win their business.
  • No Community Engagement: has ignited terrific community momentum, with its public Idea Exchange, its growing Developer Community and the skyrocketing number of SaaS solutions on the AppExchange. Similarly Google has launched their Enterprise Solutions and Gadget Gallery. You'd expect a market leader like Accenture to be an active community participant, especially given their alleged level of investment. But we checked, and the search term "Accenture" returns 21 hits at the and Google Enterprise web properties and forums, while the leading Services 2.0 firms had over 1,200 postings.
We recognize that loyal on-premise-centric Global systems integrators such as Accenture will eventually come around to the Service 2.0 way of the world. But this change is years off. In the interim, if any Accenture consultants have passion and vision for the future of on-demand and SaaS, and are interested in shaping the industry today, we are eager to speak with you so please be in touch!

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