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Cognizant steps up business consultancy push in Europe

Cognizant is searching for someone to run its business consultancy operation in Europe as it attempts to emulate the growth rates of its IT services business.

The IT services provider has about 2,500 business consultants globally with all but about 400 in the US and India. The business, which is separate from its massive IT delivery capability, advises customers on business issues, with CIOs as the contact.

Mark Livingston, who heads up Cognizant's business consultancy arm globally and is a former A.T. Kearny employee, says Cognizant cannot run the European business from the US and needs an individual with experience in running a large consultancy.

Business consultancy is route to growth

The company wants to continue its rapid growth and sees business consultancy as the way to do this. Cognizant grew its IT services sales by 43% last year.

He said the company is currently on a major recruitment drive to increase its consultancy resources and is targeting acquisitions of small specialist consultancies. The company has recruited 50 senior consultants globally in the past two years and has made acquisitions including that of UK public sector consultancy PIPC.

IBM, EDS and Capgemini, which have already been on this journey, each built up a capability at least partly through acquisition. EDS acquired A.T. Kearny in 1995, Capgemini took over Ernst & Young Consulting in 2000, and IBM bought PwC Consulting in 2002.

Focused on good advice

Cognizant structures its consultancy business to reward staff for good advice rather than set them targets. This is where many IT suppliers that move into consultancy have gone wrong, says Livingston.

"Many IT services firms have built up consultancy businesses, but then give them delivery targets, which means they sell consultancy less and BPO and IT outsourcing more." Cognizant does not reward consultants in relation to delivery targets.

Advising businesses on transforming their operations

An example of Cognizant's approach to consulting is a project known as The Future of Work, which is advising businesses on transforming their operations to meet new demands and harness social and technological changes. These include the fact that over a third of staff and customers of many businesses today are "Millennials" - people born in the 1980s. Other factors are globalisation, virtualisation, the cloud and social media.

"All these things are changing how businesses work," said Livingston." All of this will require a massive workload."

Wipro is another supplier trying to grow its consultancy business. Wipro told Computer Weekly in May last year that it was investing in resources to help customers transform their businesses and that it was targeting senior staff at the big consultancies.


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