Accenture Federal Services announced it will be acquiring Phase One Consulting Group last week, a leading Salesforce solutions provider in the $80 billion federal market. WashingtonExec sat down with Elaine Beeman, AFS’ senior managing director and civilian portfolio lead, who championed the deal, for the inside scoop.
WashingtonExec: What does the acquisition of Phase One in particular add to Accenture Federal Services’ portfolio that differentiate it from the other acquisitions?
Elaine Beeman: We are very excited about the Phase One acquisition for a number of reasons. One key point around that is that they have a nice complementary client footprint. The clients that they serve are clients that we don’t currently work but were hoping to target, or for clients that we do share, they may be operating in a different part of that client’s business. We had a remarkable amount of synergy we believe will allow both of our companies to grow off the bases we each possess.
Point two is their capability set is very much aligned with our key strategy as we look at the federal marketplace. We are moving aggressively in the areas of cloud, digital, cyber, and those are very much the kind of core areas of focus for Phase One as well. They are very strong in IT modernization; specifically, leveraging digital platforms like Salesforce.
We are also a leader in digital platforms and innovation there, leading agencies toward true IT modernization on digital platforms. This is going to cement our position as a leader across all of the different platforms providers: ServiceNow, Pega and Salesforce.
Here is a third element of why we are so excited about Phase One: It really has to do with a complementary culture that we see in the organization. These guys are very client centric, delivering excellent results for customers. They have a very satisfied and loyal customer base. That was very inviting to us.
They have great talent and they put their people first, which is very much in line with how we think about our talent pool. We serve our people so they can best serve our customers. They really focused on things the same as we do; transformation, innovation, leading our clients to the new, helping them see and prepare for the technology and other trends that are going to impact government.
That very much was in line of how we view the government market and how we serve our government customers. It was just another thing that made it an appealing fit for us.
WE: How does the government use Salesforce?
EB: Sometimes, the government isn’t necessarily asking for it. It is kind of our job to help lead the government in a direction that helps us to capitalize on the assets and capabilities that come from moving to a cloud-based platform.
On the commercial side, platforms like Salesforce.com have historically been used for a lot of capabilities like traditional CRM (sales, marketing and customer service) and so there is an element of that kind of translated for government. We see the bigger opportunity in IT modernization. A platform like Salesforce.com is excellent to replace and modernize legacy government systems that are complex, rules based and very expensive to maintain. It’s an upgrade in service and capability as well as a cost minimization play for government.
WE: Modernization is a hot topic these days. Everyone agrees it’s needed, but beyond that, things are a little vague. What will it look like? What are the steps? How are we going to maintain continuity while we move servers?
EB: It’s less about moving servers and more about re-platforming into the cloud. There are migration approaches and pathways that allow for complete continuity of service. You can replicate in the cloud before some sort of migration actually takes place. We are not looking at changing the engine on the plane while flying it. It is quite possible to do this in a seamless fashion.
WE: Do you think all of this digital transformation is going to be a challenge for current employees? Is the government ready to address that?
EB: I think any transformation creates challenges for people. It’s just one of those things. It is change being introduced into the environment. That doesn’t mean that it needs to be a negative.
I do think we are going to need to work at bringing people along in the process. There is kind of a cultural change; people can be resistant because they worry about efficiencies creating job elimination. That is not about the digital trend is about; it is about serving citizens better, delivering services more efficiently.
There is a great deal of opportunities for efficiency creation in terms of eliminating backlogs and delivering services faster, so we really need to focus on the incredible positives that can come out of creating efficiencies in an environment where we want to serve citizens better.