CRM Watchlist 2015 Winners: Accenture and The Pedowitz Group take their bows

These are the last two reviews of the 2015 CRM Watchlist season. But, boy, are they a good way to close it out. Accenture and The Pedowitz Group (TPG) couldn't be any more different as to why they won the Watchlist.

The note repeats, and repeats, and...: CRM Watchlist 2016 registration is still open and you have time to get the registration form required to get the questionnaire. Please email me at paul-greenberg3@the56group.com for the registration form. The clock is ticking....

Well, folks, this is it for 2015. Because it's about six months later than normal for closing this out, we are well underway for the 2016 CRM Watchlist.

But I can say unequivocally that, while last, this is definitely not the least of the 2015 CRM Watchlist season. We have two very different consulting/systems integrators with two very different models doing two very different things and they are both winners - and repeat winners at that.

What particularly makes Accenture and the The Pedowitz Group (TPG) appealing is that they have adapted to the sea changes that are forcing consulting firms and systems integrators to change their business models. Years ago, for example, no one (including me) would have thought that Accenture would ever buy into developing business around SaaS-based technology because their money had always been in the big wrench, big box implementation universe. But, lo and behold, they have done just that. In fact, Accenture, I think, might be Salesforce's largest partner. My, my, my, how times have changed.

The Pedowitz Group has always been dialed into the largest of the changes in the marketing world - they are a product of it, and impact it. It's not that these two companies don't have some things that they can do to, let's just say, align themselves even better, but both of them are already effectively aligned with the transformed business markets and models. Of course, as is my shtick, I'll tell what they can do better later.

Let's get to the nitty-gritty.

Accenture

The first thing you always notice about Accenture is their scale. They are just so damned BIG. Let's look at some numbers:

  1. 305,000 employees
  2. 120 countries
  3. Net 2014 revenues of $30,000,000,000 - that's thirty billion dollars.
  4. 25,000 CRM related practitioners - ten times more than anyone else of their ilk.

What can you say after WOW! That is remarkable and awe-inspiring on the sheer size alone. But sheer size doesn't win you the Watchlist (think of noticeably absent $100 billion companies); your ability to impact customer facing markets now and in the future does.

That is something that Accenture does quite well.

What makes Accenture particularly interesting in their success is how, as big as they are, they are able to develop cohesive strategies, and have a clear cut approach on how companies of the present can be successful participants in the future. They have a keen understanding of how this ubiquitous business transformation works. Here's some short excerpts from the Watchlist to give you an idea of what I mean:

"Digital consumers are in control - we are fully in an age where the Non-Stop customer model has replaced to the traditional 'Sales and Marketing Funnel.' ...We see the leaders as understanding that every customer is a digital customer with different needs and different speeds of adoption."
"Companies need to rethink their operating model. However, disruptive digital technologies have also become important catalysts for customer experience transformation.... True leaders recognize the power of the digital and physical blur and continue to invest in their physical capabilities as well as their digital capabilities to stand out."

The strength of their size and and their knowledge of the market forces align wouldn't mean much unless the offerings made sense. They do.

They range from somewhat enterprise CRM, classic marketing, sales, and service transformation, to slightly more sexy-in-name-but-not-in-purpose social business transformation, to cutting edge innovative offerings in advanced analytics, digital transformation and mobility. In other words, the gamut.

They don't just offer practices; they offer frameworks, consultative services, thought leadership, and technology implementations that are attuned to the realities of life in the digital age.

Thus, for example, you see one of their more innovative, competitive and successful practices - Accenture Interactive. What Accenture Interactive does is what a digital creative agency does. What they have as an advantage is the power of the rest of Accenture to support any initiatives they are involved with. They also have multiple other entities that are focused on particular capabilities as Interactive is. Let's talk about that a little later, though.

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What all this means is that they have a world-class - and quite loyal - customer base. They do work for:

  1. All top 10 global pharmaceutical companies
  2. Seven of the top 10 global consumer goods and services companies
  3. Seven of the top 10 largest global retailers
  4. Five of the top 10 global telecom companies
  5. Six of the top 10 global banks
  6. Twenty-five of the Fortune 50 and 43 of the Fortune 100

That's great but what makes it even better and shows you Accenture's actual chops is shown by even more data:

  1. Ninety-nine out of the top 100 Accenture clients have been clients for at least five years
  2. Ninety-one of those same 100 are ten years or longer.

They have the breadth and the loyalty of the clients and their clients show their trust through their long standing commitment.

To do this, they recognize they don't have to act alone - in fact, they can't act alone. They have 150 technology and business partners. I don't have room to outline all of them - but to give you some idea - Adobe, Alcatel Lucent, Callidus Cloud, Cognos, Dell, ESRI, GE, Genesys, SAP, Marketo, Jive, Clarabridge, PROS, Pegasystems, NetSuite, SAP, Oracle, Teradata, Workday, Red Hat, Lombard Risk, and World Economic Forum. They have a unique relationship with Microsoft that led the creation of a (not technically) joint venture - Avanade - a consultancy that's focused on Microsoft related technology services.

Okaaaay, but so do...lots of companies. But Accenture goes a lot further than most in building the relationships. They heavily commit to their partners and the results show. For example, they have been Oracle partners 21 years - and, in the last 12 of those years, they've won 92 Oracle awards.

This is a big, bold, brush strokes company. They do things in a big way. The impact they have, is big too. But of course, there are things that they can do to make their impact all that much greater.

What they can do

Echo an ecosystem - To put it simply, they have too many nebulous entities that confuse the market and the partners and and ...well, me. They have Accenture Interactive, which is different from Accenture Digital, which is different than Accenture Mobility, which is different than Accenture Strategy, which is different than Accenture Technology ad infinitum, ad nauseum. While I doubt highly that they will pay any attention to me whatsoever when it comes to this, just suffice to say, the multiple people I spoke to about this are all confused. Even if they don't consolidate some and reorganize others, they should develop a clear picture of a cohesive ecosystem which explains the holistic view of this amalgam of practices. Tell a story that is encompassing. I've looked through what they gave me and I saw several rather well conceived charts and diagrams that map somewhat to this mishmash but it wasn't done with the particular divisions? groups? practices? in mind. They showed me a good framework of services which is far more cohesive a structure than this mishmash of groups. Time to formulate their ecosystem (beyond just internal and with partners) and the story that goes with it.

AR overhaul - I think its time for Accenture to change their thinking when it comes to analyst relations. Unfortunately, they align their bigness with only the biggest institutional analyst firms. A quote from the Watchlist entry: "The analyst relations program for the Accenture Sales and Customer Service practice is focused primarily on Gartner, Forrester and IDC." I think that they might be the only remaining big consulting/SI that does this. Their lack of concentration on the boutique firms and the independents is a severe lack. Two years ago, it was a mistake. Now, it is mission critical that they change their thinking (and actions) on outreach and -- while not necessarily cut back their apparent reliance on the three big 'uns -- expand their program to start regularly briefing the equally as influential segments. I appreciate that their participation in the Watchlist is a little bit of that, but this is a company that needs to support its prodigious size with a much bigger analyst outreach appetite. Much bigger.

Refocus their eyeballs - Even when talking digital transformation, they are talking reduced cost and reduced complexity - great as part of a plan, not the plan. They need to incorporate a crisp, clear vision (see my fave vision statement of 2015 - EY's "making a better business world") into their focus - something they are currently missing and develop and use specific growth levers around digital transformation and customer engagement. They have the digital transformation assets in abundance. They have a lot of work to do around customer engagement but they are eminently capable of making the case and building the appropriate assets they would need. Reducing complexity (they call it reducing the complexity "tax") and cost is a noble endeavor and should remain part of the mission but they elevate it to almost a visionary model and that needs to be fixed.

The Pedowitz Group (TPG)

Here is a group that in pure size and scope is the polar opposite of Accenture. This best-in-class marketing automation consultancy is smaller, highly focused and has an impact in the market and a reputation beyond their size.

The power of TPG lies in the hyper focus of their methodology and their expertise. They are certified in some 30 marketing automation (for want of a better term) platforms. They aren't just claimants to that either. That's 400 plus certifications over those 30 platforms. They partner with the most important of those companies - e.g. Oracle/Eloqua, Marketo, Microsoft, Salesforce/Exact Target, Hubspot, and Teradata/Aprimo among others. But it even goes further than that. They are the leading award-winning partners of Oracle/Eloqua and Marketo, among others, having won some 25 major awards associated with the companies in the last 5 years.

In other words, they do seriously great quality work.

The reason for that is that have a highly evolved and results-provable methodology they call RM6. It is based on what they call "revenue marketing" - a framework that was evolved from a change in the market several years ago that reflected the increasing trend toward alignment of sales and marketing departments. Either Marketo or the then independent Eloqua recognized it first - depending on which one you believe. Its hallmark was/is revenue objectives and accountability for the marketing teams. Unfortunately, at the time, both Marketo and Eloqua both called what they provided "Revenue Performance Management." It made them sound like accounting technology firms who competed with Quickbooks. Luckily, both of them have since dropped it.

TPG gave their insight a more refined name - revenue marketing and thus RM6 - a powerful framework and methodology was born. It involves an assessment of the needs of the company not just including the returns sought after, the technologies needed, the processes that have to be in place, but the culture and the organizational readiness to undertake the effort.

While I don't have the time or room to outline the scope of RM6, suffice to say it has been successful. While I won't mention specific corporate logos, they have successfully executed their services in over 100 categories - verticals and subsets of those verticals. They have an overwhelmingly strong footprint in high tech, and strong presences in multiple other industries.

One thing that makes them standout is their knowledge that they have to provide thought leadership, not just have a methodology that serves them well. They provide a library of assets for what they call Revenue Marketing Transformation They train people and companies in how to convert marketing-related cost centers to profit centers. Even the major vendors bring them in to understand how to carry out this whole change.

Put this all together, and you have an effective, fast growing, talented company that has and will have impact in the market. Even with this, the market is now changing and there are some things that TPG can do to adapt and change themselves to continue to increase that powerful impact.

What they can do

This is gonna be tough - There is no doubt that TPG's bread and butter is revenue marketing. It is the focus of their methodology, the foundation of their success. While I'm not suggesting that they change their methodology or reduce their efforts with revenue marketing, I am saying that as painful as it might be, they might have to realign their messaging to the market as it is. For example, Marketo, who had been one of the technology pioneers in the idea of what they called awkwardly, revenue performance management, is now doing engagement marketing and RPM is no longer part of their public discussion. I'm suggesting that TPG begin to think through their message and redevelop it. While revenue marketing is still appropriate, especially around the alignment of sales and marketing going on at the enterprise and upper end of the midmarket for the most part, the Marketo shift is probably closer to at least what they should start thinking about transitioning to - in their messaging. RM6 still works.

PR great, AR not so much - TPG, when it comes to outreach is a company of explainable contradictions (though, not as Alanis Morissette would have said, "ironic"). On the one hand, they have fabulous PR led by the always amazing Elizabeth Fairleigh (founder tHE Connections) but their analyst relations are outright tepid. They tie into Sirius Decisions, Forrester and loosely, me. That's it. Here's the thing: They are big enough and growing fast enough to, if not create a formal analyst relations program headed up by an analyst relations specialist, to at least regularize briefings to a circle about 10 times the size of the one they have now. Yes, it takes time; yes, it takes planning; yes, it takes away from generation of revenue and yes, there is a cost to it, but, like it or not, it is a necessary part of the game we all play and is one of the components that have to be in place to grow to beyond a certain level. I'm not going to outline who to talk to or even what the approach should be. But it should be.

Tweaking - There are a few interesting possibilities that I want to put in the mix. They are - finding a few new verticals to concentrate on - by having a vertical focus that goes beyond opportunistic. They did a list of number of implementations for the Watchlist that is so big and so diverse as to be astounding. There are a few verticals such as high tech that stand WAY out. But there are few interesting ones where the number is smaller but the opportunity is great (Sports being one) - especially for a company of their size and scope. Maybe focus vertically? The other tweak is simple. Consider Adobe Digital Marketing as a possible practice. Adobe is unmistakably on the ascent and their product offerings get better, more powerful and increasingly diverse each cycle. Its hard to ignore them in this market. Maybe TPG partners with them? Just sayin'.

I'm also just sayin' goodbye for the 2015 Watchlist. The yearbook will be ready in a week or so and made available for free to all who want it. If you do, let me know now at paul-greenberg3@the56group.com and I'll send you one when I get it done.

Additionally, to reiterate what I said above, the CRM Watchlist 2016 is open for registration. We have a lot of companies registered so far so it might pay to join the bandwagon and get onboard for 2016. In order to have you not go all the way to the top of this post, you can just email me for a 2016 CRM Watchlist registration form and when you fill it out and send it back to me, you'll get the appropriate 2016 questionnaire. That questionnaire is due December 11, 2015 at 6pm Pacific Time. It's well worth your time. Truly. Madly. Greatly.

Let the games continue.