Accenture PLC is a global professional services company and provides strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services. It has been incorporated in Dublin, Ireland, after 1 September 2009. It is the world's largest consulting firm as measured by revenues and is a Fortune Global 500 company. As of 2016, the company reported net revenues of $32.9 billion, with more than 384,000 employees serving clients in more than 200 cities in 120 countries. In 2015, Accenture had about 130,000 employees in India, more than in any additional country, about 48,000 in the US, and about 50,000 in the Philippines. Accenture's current clients include 94 of the Fortune Global 100 and more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500.
Accenture common equity is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, under the symbol ACN, and was added to the S&P 500 index on 5 July 2011. In 2016, Fortune magazine named it as the world's most admired Information Technology Services company.
Formation and early years
Accenture began as the business and technology consulting division of accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Arthur Andersen's first job in computer consulting came in the early 1950s, when the firm conducted a feasibility study for General Electric to instal a computer at Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1953, the firm urged GE to instal a UNIVAC I computer and printer. This system is believed to be the first commercial use of a computer in the U.S. Joseph Glickauf, an early pioneer of computer consulting, held a position as head of Arthur Andersen's administrative services division.
Splitting from Arthur Andersen
Throughout the 1990s, there was increasing tension between Andersen Consulting and Arthur Andersen. Andersen Consulting was upset that it was paying Arthur Andersen up to fifteen percent of its profits each year (a condition of the 1989 split was that the more profitable unit – whether AA or AC – paid the additional this sum), while at the same time Arthur Andersen was competing with Andersen Consulting through its own newly established business consulting service line called Arthur Andersen Business Consulting (AABC). This dispute came to a head in 1998 when Andersen Consulting claimed breach of contract against AWSC and Arthur Andersen. Andersen Consulting put the fifteen percent transfer payment for that year and future years into escrow and issued a claim for breach of contract. In August 2000, as a result of the conclusion of arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce, Andersen Consulting broke all contractual ties with AWSC and Arthur Andersen. As part of the arbitration settlement, Andersen Consulting paid the sum held in escrow (then $1.2 billion) to Arthur Andersen, and was required to change its name, resulting in the entity being renamed Accenture.
Emergence of Accenture
On 1 January 2001, Andersen Consulting adopted its current name, "Accenture". The word "Accenture" is supposedly derived from "Accent on the future". The name "Accenture" was submitted by Kim Petersen, a Danish employee from the company's Oslo, Norway office, as a result of an internal competition. Accenture felt that the name should represent its will to be a global consulting leader and high performer, and additionally intended that the name shouldn't be offensive in any country in which Accenture operates.
On 19 July 2001, Accenture’s initial public offering (IPO) was priced at $14.50 per share, and the shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE); Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley served as its lead underwriters. Accenture stock closed the day at $15.17, with the day's high at $15.25. On the first day of the IPO, Accenture raised nearly $1.7 billion.
In October 2002, the Congressional General Accounting Office (GAO) identified Accenture as one of four publicly traded federal contractors that were incorporated in a tax haven country. The additional three, unlike Accenture, were incorporated in the United States before they re-incorporated in a tax haven country, thereby lowering their US taxes. Critics, most notably former CNN journalist Lou Dobbs, have reported Accenture's decision to incorporate in Bermuda as a US tax avoidance ploy, because they viewed Accenture as having been a US-based company. The GAO itself didn't characterise Accenture as having been a US-based company; it stated that "prior to incorporating in Bermuda, Accenture was operating as a series of related partnerships and corporations under the control of its partners through the mechanism of contracts with a Swiss coordinating entity."
Accenture engaged in a quite large and ambitious IT overhaul project for the National Health Service (NHS) in 2003, making headlines when it withdrew from the contract in 2006 over disputes related to delays and cost overruns. The government of the United Kingdom ultimately abandoned the project 5 years later for the same reasons.
Accenture announced on 26 May 2009 that its Board of Directors unanimously approved changing the company’s place of incorporation to Ireland from Bermuda and would become Accenture plc.
Accenture was chosen to replace CGI Group as the lead contractor for HealthCare.gov in January 2014. In December 2014, Accenture won a $563 million contract to provide ongoing maintenance, software development and technology support for HealthCare.gov through 2019.
In July 2015 the United States Department of Defense awarded a major Electronic Health Records contract to Cerner, Leidos and Accenture. The contract valued $4.33 billion will serve 55 hospitals and 600 clinics. Accenture federal services and Leidos will play the role of configuration specialist while Cerner is the prime contractor.
Services and operations
- Accenture Strategy provides business strategy, technology strategy and operations strategy services.
- Accenture Consulting provides technology, business and management consulting.
- Accenture Digital provides digital marketing, analytics and mobility services.
- Accenture Technology focuses on technology solutions, implementation, delivery, and research & development, including its Technology Labs for emerging technologies
- Accenture Operations focuses on an "as-a-service" model of service delivery. This includes business process outsourcing, IT services, cloud services, managed operations, security and infrastructure services.
The company additionally operates a "National Security Services" business.
Marketing, branding and identity
In 2011, Accenture launched a new campaign of results-based ads featuring clients such as Marriott, Unilever and the Royal Shakespeare Company alongside its slogan “High performance. Delivered”. As of 2015, Interbrand ranked Accenture No. 42 on its list of best global brands. The brand consultancy noted Accenture's focus on branding and marketing of its Accenture Strategy, Accenture Consulting, Accenture Digital, Accenture Technology and Accenture Operations divisions.
From at least 2005 until December 2009, Accenture used Tiger Woods as a celebrity spokesperson and advertised using the service mark "Go on, be a Tiger" and the ancillary statement "We know what it takes to be a Tiger" in association with his image. On 13 December 2009 after details of Woods' extra-marital affairs were exposed, the company terminated Woods' six-year sponsorship deal.
The company uses a standardised system of branding, with extensive use of the font Rotis SemiSans.
From 1999, the firm's culture was parodied by the webcomic Bigtime Consulting, operated pseudonymously by its San Francisco-based employee James Sanchez. The comic operated a store offering merchandise branded with the names 'Bigtime Consulting' and 'Indenture'. Sanchez left the company in 2000 but continued to operate the comic for a few years.
Recent awards and honours
- In 2013, the firm was named ninth in the Top 50 Companies for diversity by DiversityInc.
- In 2014, the firm was named twelfth in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc.
- In 2014, Corporate Responsibility Magazine named Accenture fifteenth in their top 100 Best Corporate Citizens, marking the fourth consecutive year the company ranked in the top 25.
- In 2014, Accenture was ranked at 339 on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
- In 2015, the Ethisphere Institute designated Accenture as one of the World's Most ethical Companies for the eighth time.
- The firm was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for from 2009-2015.
- In 2015, the firm was named fifteenth in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc.
- In 2015, Corporate Responsibility Magazine named Accenture No. 48 in their top 100 Best Corporate Citizens.
- In 2016, the Ethisphere Institute designated Accenture as one of the World's Most ethical Companies for the ninth time.
- The firm was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for from 2009-2016.
- In 2015, Accenture was ranked at 322 on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
- In 2015, Accenture was ranked No. 374 on the Fortune Global 500 list.
- In 2016, the firm was named fifteenth in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc.
- In 2016, Corporate Responsibility Magazine named Accenture No. 14 in their top 100 Best Corporate Citizens.
- In 2016, Accenture was ranked No. 289 on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
- In 2016, Accenture was ranked No. 312 on the Fortune Global 500 list.