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News Plus 5 Oct 2021 - 4 min read

Tech neutral, no media: Capgemini eyes Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital, agency networks in CMO-CIO budget crossover; $33m creative-data agency acquisition The Works already driving growth

By Paul McIntyre & Brendan Coyne
Damien Pincus and Kaylene O'Brien.

'Massive convergence' between CIO and CMOs: Capgemini Australia boss Kaylene O'Brien (right) wants creative agency The Works led by Damian Pincus (left) at the leading edge bringing tech, CX, brand and messaging together

Capgemini's new Australian boss Kaylene O'Brien is charged with doubling the business in three years and aims to become a serious threat to Deloitte Digital and Accenture Interactive as yet another tech-consulting firm invests heavily to fuse digital transformation and CX with brand, creative and marketing communications. Capgemini is deploying new acquisition, creative agency The Works, as a bridge between the CIO and CMO while spending serious money to lead on tech neutrality via a broader spread of martech and CRM systems than its consulting rivals. Australia's ad holding companies now face another competitive threat in the continuing tech-marketing mash up.

What you need to know:

  • Capgemeni ANZ boss Kaylene O’Brien is tasked with doubling local business within three years.
  • Tapping marketing budgets is where a chunk of that growth will come from, said O’Brien, with CMOs now actively being wooed alongside CIOs.
  • That puts it in direct competition with Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital and the ad holding companies now racing to acquire transformation capability.
  • Capgemini is upselling creative and CX support to business transformation clients via The Works, which it acquired with its $96m buy of RXP, which bought the agency in 2018. The two are already working jointly on major projects.
  • The Works has repositioned to "Be Significant" as part of a grand plan to attract talent - and clients - to the tech-marketing-creative hybrid 
  • But there is still huge growth in traditional tech services. “Demand is outstripping supply,” said O’Brien.
  • The consulting giant is making strategic big bets on cloud technology acquisitions, about to finalise a fourth acquisition in 18 months and aiming to outgun rivals.

Six months after Capgemini’s $96m acquisition of RXP, Kaylene O’Brien, MD for Capgemini Australia and New Zealand, is putting The Works – itself acquired by RXP for circa $33m in 2018 – front and centre of its vast consulting services suite to deliver design-driven CX execution and end-to-end digital transformation with marcoms capability to boot.

It's going directly after chief information officer and chief marketing officer budgets – and head to head with the likes of Accenture and Deloitte, wasting no time in acquiring a formidable tech arsenal, and critically, the people that can make it all work.

Tech neutrality

While it lacks specialist Google capability, Capgemini’s spread bets mean the consultancy is closer than some of its peers to genuine tech neutrality.

“If you look broadly across all the technology vendors, Capgemini in Australia already had some elements. But when we acquired RXP, it bought a lot more strength around Service Now, which is fundamentally business process workflow, and we also added to Salesforce capabilities. In the next acquisition we have Empired, but RXP also brought Microsoft Dynamics as another CRM,” said O’Brien.

“So in terms of us filling out our capabilities around CRM integration tools and cloud platforms, this is all part of the strategy for us to broaden out and scale in Australia. Capgemini is very strong in Europe and US, part of the challenge I have is to get us to similar market penetration and scale for Australia, which is why Empired will be our fourth acquisition in 18 months.” 

While the martech vendor landscape is consolidating, “you got to make some bets on what are going to be the vendors and their products that are going to be here for the long term,” said O’Brien. “So we have made a series of bets … [on] some very dominant players.”

But she said even safe tech bets do not guarantee success.

“You got to think about the long-term customer choice … the technology on its own will not give you strategic competitive advantage. It is all the other choices around it, all the cleverness in the people, the strategy, the process. It's how you use that technology, how you apply it and implement it, how you bring all the different professions and skills together.”

And how good you can make the outputs. Which is where The Works comes in.

Giving CIOs and CMOs the works

Capgemini has major growth plans for The Works, funnelling its consulting clients into the creative agency to cross-sell services.

“My expectation across the Capgemini leaders is that they bring The Works into our joint accounts,” said O’Brien.

“It's a combination that should help us better service CMOS and CIOs – and give them confidence that we can also support their peers who, over time, will have more and more decision-making power in how technology choices are made and how their customer personalisation happens.”

There is massive convergence of those two worlds, said O’Brien, “and Capgemini in Australia wants to be at the leading edge of that trend.”

The cross-sell already cuts both ways: The Works co-founder and creative partner Damian Pincus cites AwareSuper as an early example of the agency introducing a brand client to Capgemini’s martech consultancy units.

"No cultural friction"

The cultural clashes that sour tech-creative marriages are yet to materialise, added Pincus, with The Works and Capgemini teams now working in “squads” on major transformation projects.

“We are finding no friction at all, which when you become part of a big global company is one of the things you’re always scared of,” said Pincus. “But we’re getting the right people in the room, there is no ego, everybody wants to help each other – and the early signs are really positive.”

O’Brien said she has no plans to alter the agency’s creative culture, nor engineer structural osmosis.

“An acquisition is only successful if you can demonstrate to your clients that we are able to deliver more value because we're together. So part of my job is to protect the value that is in The Works.

“We want the brand of The Works to absolutely be supported to grow and evolve, but also to be kept as a coherent business on its own two feet,” she said, albeit one that now has “an immediate entry point to a large number of clients.”

Doubled-ended growth

Pincus sees equally immediate “easy wins” in building better outputs for the martech and CRM systems that Capgemini integrates and runs for its client brands.

“The core of personalisation for me is a really good example of what we both do. It’s just we both come at it in different ways,” said Pincus.

“Capgemini's job is to take systems and make them unique for how a company wants to use that system. Our job is to overlay the brand layer and make sure that system is being used from an output perspective, as either they use it internally or externally, and to design it so it is unique to their brand,” he added.

“It seems natural that as the Capgemini team are working to integrate [CRM and martech systems] into clients business, that we would be able to work on the actual output and what that looks like for clients. There’s definite opportunity there.”

If Capgemini’s bets pay off, The Works will have all the work it can handle – and more. Hence the agency launching a new 'Be Significant' position in a bid to retain and attract the talent it will need.

“The expectation over the next three years is that Capgemini in Australia doubles in size,” said O’Brien.

“Whilst The Works is a proportion of the business, it's strategically really important for us. But there are some parts of the consulting and IT services market that are just growing... The demand is outstripping supply.”

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