We have released a summary of our
detailed review of data analytics consulting M&A and investor trends for
owners of businesses across the knowledge economy.
At the core of the Fourth Industrial
Revolution is the fusion of big data, advanced analytics and new physical
technologies. The key to business success in the new digital age is no longer
being able to simply use data to measure current and past performance. It is
being able to make predictions about the future and quickly prescribe
recommended strategies that can enrich decision making.
From a delivery model perspective, there is pressure on knowledge-intensive services firms to enhance their consulting offering with new data analytics solutions. This same pressure is being felt by consulting firms’ clients, who look to their advisers for assistance in innovating and realizing competitive advantages from new data analytics tools. Across the space in 2018, we found that buyers focused on acquisition targets with proprietary platforms, leverageable IP and managed services solutions.
Major deals profiled include Cognizant’s acquisition of Mustache,
PA Consulting’ acquisition of We Are Friday and Accenture’s acquisition of
Equiteq advised LightStream Analytics on its sale to ABeam
The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index declined
along with broader market indices.
Cognizant acquires creative
agency Mustache after another strong year of deal flow for the prolific buyer.
Target: Mustache is a US-based content creation agency that
provides video production and marketing services with a focus on developing
integrated advertising campaigns for blue-chip clients.
Buyer: Cognizant is a US-headquartered global technology
Deal Insight: Cognizant stepped up its deal flow across digital capabilities following a lull in activity in 2015. In its debut appearance, Cognizant Interactive was named among the top of Ad Age’s Agency Report 2018 rankings. The acquisition of Mustache adds strong content specialist capabilities and develops Cognizant Interactive’s digital content services to better position it against competitors like Accenture Interactive and Deloitte Digital. The transaction builds on Cognizant’s acquisition of Softvision for $550m in October. Softvision is a provider of end-to-end digital products and solutions with experience in developing video-streaming platforms.
Buyers expect to complete 5 acquisitions over the next 2 to 3 years
Private equity expect to acquire 75% more businesses than strategic buyers
The optimum turnover size for an acquisition rose 18% since 2016
Strong demand for artificial intelligence, data analytics and Internet of Things capabilities
The Knowledge Economy Global Buyers Report analyzes the findings of our fifth comprehensive independent survey of global strategic buyers and private equity investors acquiring businesses across the knowledge economy. The report provides exclusive insights into current M&A trends among buyers that acquire knowledge-intensive services businesses across five segments: management consulting, IT services, media agencies, engineering consulting and human resources.
Major deals profiled include Cognizant’s acquisition of Softvision, NTT Data’s acquisition of Sierra Systems and Accenture’s acquisition of TargetST8.
Equiteq advised Copperman on its sale to Decision Inc. and Essential Design on its sale to PA Consulting.
The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index fell over the month, along with other broader market indices.
Cognizant announces transformational acquisition of Softvision from Tower Arch Capital
Target: Softvision is a global provider of end-to-end digital products and solutions that works with a variety of blue-chip companies. The business has a network of 2,850 professionals with a significant presence in Romania.
Buyer: Cognizant is a US-headquartered global technology services firm.
Deal Value: $550m
Deal Insight: The deal expands Cognizant’s offerings in digital and cloud services to better position it against more acquisitive digital competitors like Accenture. Cognizant will benefit from Softvision’s strong roster of client relationships and experience on high-profile projects. This includes the creation of a disruptive video-streaming platform and an iPad application for US-based healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente. The acquisition also expands Cognizant’s footprint in Romania. Softvision was previously owned by private equity Tower Arch Capital, which acquired the business in July 2015 for an undisclosed sum.
Activity remains focused on media agencies and IT services
Strong rises in M&A in North America and APAC
Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index pushes to new highs
The global M&A market across the knowledge economy was strong in the third quarter of 2018. Market data from the quarter reflects a key trend we have been monitoring over the last eighteen months: global buyers are pushing ahead with larger deals at premium prices. This is partly down to strategic buyers and private equity having record capital available for M&A. Given the low interest rate environment, there is pressure to deploy this capital on larger transactions. Particularly amid increasing signs that quantitative easing programs are coming to an end across developed economies.
It’s been widely reported that Yahoo and AOL, both owned by Verizon’s business unit Oath, are reading users’ emails to more effectively target advertising.
The WSJ moves beyond the headline issue of privacy and into the privacy trade-off users make with their free email providers. There is an interesting connection here to the concept of “razors” and “blades”, discussed in a previous post. Email could be seen as the razor to Oath’s blade, i.e. how they make money, online advertising. Trying to monetize their “expensive” razor is proving tricky. At the very least it has generated plenty of media attention regarding privacy concerns.
The WSJ article references Yahoo’s ad-free email service for $3.49/month. There have been attempts at pay-for privacy social media platforms in the past. It is interesting to think about the digital assets available to consumers and the price of privacy. My sense is most of us have always thought of online ad targeting as benign. But as we shift more of our lives to the digital world, learn more about how our data is being used (sometimes after the fact), and start questioning where the boundaries are it begs the question: is there a future for digital pay-for privacy?
Major deals profiled include Cognizant’s acquisition of ATG, AlixPartners’ acquisition of Zolfo Cooper’s US operations and SAIC’s acquisition of Engility.
Equiteq advised System Partners on its sale to DXC Technology and Mexia on joining Deloitte.
The Equiteq Knowledge Economy Share Price Index fell modestly over the month.
Cognizant acquires ATG, expanding its capabilities in the rapidly growing cloud-based Quote to Cash consulting space
Target: Advanced Technology Group (ATG) is a US-based provider of advice on planning, implementing, and optimizing cloud-based Quote to Cash (QTC) business processes and technologies for businesses. ATG is a global Salesforce consulting partner.
Buyer: Cognizant is a US-headquartered global technology services firm.
Deal Insight: Equiteq recently published a guide for the Configure Price Quote (CPQ) industry at Salesforce’s Dreamforce 18. CPQ forms part of the QTC space and it was clear from our research that the space is seeing rapid growth, particularly as it relates to cloud-based solutions that are transforming the sales experience for businesses across industries. The following software players are some of the leaders that have received considerable investments and / or expanded into the space via M&A.
Apttus was acquired by private equity Thoma Bravo in September 2018;
SAP completed its acquisition of Callidus Software in April 2018;
Salesforce completed its acquisition of SteelBrick in 2016; and
Oracle completed its acquisition of BigMachines in 2013.
The acquisition of ATG marks Cognizant’s fourth acquisition in 2018. The deal is its second acquisition in the Salesforce consulting space after its recent acquisition of SaaSfocus – an Indian digital transformation consulting business that leverages Salesforce solutions. Salesforce consulting businesses continue to observe strong demand from buyers, as the industry benefits from the growth in the adoption of the latest Salesforce solutions.
We have just returned from an exhilarating week in San Francisco for Dreamforce 18, the largest technology event in the world and this year attracting over 170,000 people from Salesforce’s client, investor, research and partner network. The most pertinent discussions revolved around the latest artificial intelligence solutions and how they are further disrupting customer experience. The conference also provided the opportunity for major deals and investments to be announced, including the sale of Equiteq’s M&A advisory client and Salesforce Platinum partner, System Partners, to DXC Technology.
At this year’s conference, Equiteq and Quote-to-Cash experts, Simplus, announced the release of The Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) Industry Guide 2018, the most comprehensive publicly available study of the CPQ industry and investment within the space. The guide provides exclusive industry perspectives on the CPQ trends currently transforming customer experience for businesses and driving investment in solutions providers.
I recently listened to Sunil Gupta’s HBR IdeaCast on digital strategy – a topic relevant to many, if not all, of our clients. After providing examples of failed approaches to digital strategy he rightfully points out that in order to be successful, strategies need to incorporate four components:
Operations and value chain
I think this is an incredibly helpful and balanced perspective. When advising companies in the knowledge economy and looking at the M&A focus of the large players, we see far too much focus on a single component, specifically customer engagement. There are perhaps a number of reasons for this, for example you can see immediate success, outcomes are more tangible, etc.
However, where we see organizations making significant strides is when they take a far more comprehensive approach to their digital strategy and look beyond the digital experience of the customer as their sole focus.