Andrei Merkulov -

Accenture acquisition will expand services that help customers be more like Tesla

Accenture’s latest acquisition will boost the part of the organisation that helps manufacturers and engineering firms be more like Tesla

Accenture has added thousands of staff to the part of its business that focuses on providing digitisation services to traditional industry sectors, through the acquisition of umlaut in Germany.

This is the 22nd takeover for Accenture’s 10-year-old Industry X business, which offers these services, supports organisations that are traditionally hardware-focused, such as train manufacturers or household appliance makers, to build software and other technologies into their operations and products. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Engineering and manufacturing industries are under pressure to become more software-focused, following the success of the likes of Tesla in harnessing digital technology in their businesses. But making the transition from traditional to digital business requires new skills and expertise, which is seeing increasing demand for such services.

Accenture’s Industry X provides services to the heads of engineering, research and development (R&D), manufacturing and service and maintenance, in traditional sectors such as engineering and manufacturing.

The acquisition of umlaut, an engineering consulting and services firm headquartered in Aachen, adds 4,200 engineers and consultants in 17 countries to Accenture’s global Industry X business. 

Sef Tuma, global head, intelligent products and platforms in Accenture’s Industry X business, said potential customers are any business that has an R&D or engineering operation. “We provide services to digitise their businesses or help them bake software analytics and cloud into their products,” he said.

Tuma said the organisation supports businesses that are going through such transformations. “We can help them build the talent, the tools, the operating models and processes they need to change the way they build products,” he added.

He said the services are “not about cutting costs, but making customers more efficient and competitive”.

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Accenture Industry X customers include transport manufacturer Alstom, household appliance maker Artic and air purification equipment company Blueair.

Working with Accenture, Blueair has built a cloud-based internet of things (IoT) platform to enable customers to monitor and manage air purifiers remotely.

The 15-month project saw Blueair – part of Unilever’s appliance business – work closely with Accenture to create a platform as a service on the Amazon Web Services public cloud.

The decision to make a new platform and engage with Accenture came after Blueair recognised that its existing platform to connect to purifiers was built in 2013/14 and was out of date.

Julie Sweet, chief executive officer at Accenture, said Covid-19 has accelerated the need for companies to transform core operations. “Umlaut’s leading and highly specialised engineering services will enhance our ability to meet the accelerating demand and also continue innovating for our clients,” she said.

Tuma said umlaut gives Accenture operations in 17 countries as well as highly specialised engineering services delivered in a “very entrepreneurial way”, through a mix of engineering and consulting skills.

Marc Peter Althoff, CTO at umlaut, said: “Business leaders across many industries who face the convergence of the digital and the product world are looking for a trusted partner that understands their language and can really help navigate each step of the journey to bring tangible outcomes in engineering and manufacturing.”

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