Accenture plc is an Irish-domiciled multinational company that provides consulting and processing services. A Fortune Global 500 company, it reported revenues of $44.33 billion in 2020 and had 537,000 employees. In 2015, the company had about 150,000 employees in India, 48,000 in the US, and 50,000 in the Philippines. Accenture's current clients include 91 of the Fortune Global 100 and more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500.
|Services||Strategy & Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations|
|Revenue||US$44.33 billion (2020)|
|US$6.51 billion (2020)|
|US$5.11 billion (2020)|
|Total assets||US$37.08 billion (2020)|
|Total equity||US$17.5 billion (2020)|
Number of employees
Formation and early years
Accenture began as the business and technology consulting division of accounting firm Arthur Andersen in the early 1950s when it conducted a feasibility study for General Electric to install a computer at Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky, which led to GE's installation of a UNIVAC I computer and printer, 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.
Split from Arthur Andersen
In 1989, Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting became separate units of Andersen Worldwide Société Coopérative (AWSC). Throughout the 1990s, there was increasing tension between Andersen Consulting and Arthur Andersen. Andersen Consulting was paying Arthur Andersen up to 15% of its profits each year (a provision of the 1989 split was that the more profitable unit – whether AA or AC – pay the other the 15 percent), 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 put the 15% transfer payment for that year and future years into escrow and issued a claim for breach of contract against AWSC and Arthur Andersen. 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 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. Andersen felt that the name should represent its will to be a global consulting leader and high performer, and also intended that the name should not 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.
2000s: Bermuda headquarters
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. The other three, unlike Accenture, were incorporated in the United States before they re-incorporated in a tax haven, 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 did not characterize 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 an IT overhaul project for the British 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 five years later for the same reasons.
2010s: Ireland headquarters and recent history
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.
In June 2018, Accenture generated controversy over the amount the firm has been charging to recruit 7,500 Customs and Border Protection officers. Under the $297 million contract, Accenture had been charging the US Government nearly $40,000 per hire, which is more than the annual salary of the average officer. According to a report published by the DHS Office of Inspector General in December 2018, Accenture had been paid $13.6M through the first ten months of the contract. They had hired two agents against a contract goal of 7,500 hires over 5 years. The report was issued as a 'management alert', indicating an issue requiring immediate attention, stating that "Accenture has already taken longer to deploy and delivered less capability than promised". The contract was terminated in 2019.
In January 2019, CEO Pierre Nanterme stepped down from his position, citing health reasons. Twenty days after stepping down, he died in France at the age of 59 after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Chief Financial Officer David Rowland was named as the interim CEO. In July 2019, Julie Sweet, previously CEO of Accenture North America, was named the new chief executive officer of the firm, effective September 2019.
In February 2019, contractors from Accenture's Austin, Texas location who performed content moderation tasks for Facebook wrote an open letter to Facebook describing poor working conditions and a "Big Brother environment" that included restricted work breaks and strict non-disclosure agreements. A counselor in the Austin office stated that the content moderators could develop posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of the work, which included evaluating videos and images containing graphic violence, hate speech, animal abuse, and child abuse. Accenture issued a statement saying the company offers opportunities for moderators to advance, increase their wages, and provide input "to help shape their experience".
On 7 January 2020, news sources reported that Accenture had agreed to acquire Symantec's 300-person cybersecurity services division from Broadcom. The $200 million acquisition was completed in April 2020.
In May 2020, Accenture announced that it had acquired Callisto Integration, a Canada-based provider of consulting and technology services and Byte Prophecy, an Ahmedabad-based data analytics company.
For the fiscal year 2019, Accenture reported earnings of US$6.305 billion, with an annual revenue of US$43.215 billion, an increase of 5.4% over the previous fiscal cycle. Accenture's shares traded at over $197 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at over US$125.1 billion in November 2019.
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Services and operations
- Accenture Strategy provides business strategy, technology strategy and operations strategy services.
- Accenture Consulting provides technology, business and management consulting.
- Accenture Interactive (formerly Digital) provides digital marketing, analytics and mobility services.
- Accenture Technology focuses on technology software, 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 and security.
Marketing, branding and identity
In 2011, Accenture launched a new campaign of results-based advertisements featuring clients such as Marriott, Unilever and the Royal Shakespeare Company alongside its slogan "High performance. Delivered". As of 2019, Interbrand ranked Accenture No. 31 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 Hertz Corporation sued Accenture in April 2019 over a contract where Accenture was hired to build a website and app for Hertz. On 12 September, both parties appeared before the judge and provided oral arguments on the legitimacy of Hertz's complaint and Accenture's motion to dismiss. In October 2019, a judge dismissed with prejudice Hertz's claim that Accenture violated Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The judge declined to determine at that time whether an agreement limits the damages available to Hertz for its breach of contract claim.
Awards & recognition
- In 2020, Accenture was ranked No. 205 on the Forbes Global 2000.
- In 2020, the firm was ranked No. 5 in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc.
- In 2020, Ethisphere Institute recognized Accenture for the 13th time.
- Fortune named Accenture one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For from 2009 to 2020.
- In 2020, Accenture was ranked No. 279 on the Fortune Global 500 list.
- In 2020, Fortune magazine named it as the world's most admired Information Technology Services company.
- List of IT consulting firms
- Avanade, an IT consulting subsidiary of Accenture
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