Accenture, the new name for Andersen Consulting announced today, is presented as a striking departure for the firm, and signals a new era for the world’s biggest consultancy. (The firm chose the name “Accenture” from among 2,677 suggestions submitted by employees.) But Accenture will have to do much more than adopt a different moniker to reinvent itself.

Accenture will spend the next two months trotting out a branding campaign that will force much sign-changing at major airports. Along with the requisite full-page ads in all major business publications, you can also expect golfer Tiger Woods to win the Accenture Championship next year.

There is much afoot at Accenture. Partners agreed earlier this month to consider slicing off parts of the business for public spin-offs. Meanwhile, the firm has been announcing new partnerships and alliances at a frightening pace. All this energy and enthusiasm surrounding the world’s biggest consultancy makes us wonder: What exactly will Accenture stand for in the future? Advisor, investor, partner, inventor? Certainly not consultant.

Global telecoms merge and converge and the average consumer barely notices. Whether it’s Bell Atlantic or Verizon, who cares? The bill always ends up in the right mailbox. Consultants face a different challenge. At the surface level, Andersen will easily transition over to Accenture with a well-oiled advertising campaign. But the firm is looking to do more than change business cards.

Accenture wants to recast itself as the world’s leading professional service provider. There’s a very deliberate madness involved in dropping “consulting” from the title. For better or worse, Accenture will become a true multiheaded service provider. And if successful, the firm will certainly reshape the consulting industry.

Now let’s see what Arthur Andersen will do with the now-available Andersen name.

Heard on the street
Hitachi’s purchase of Grant Thornton’s e-business consulting unit (or 80 percent of Grant Thornton Consulting) further demonstrates that accounting firms can find buyers for their consulting divisions. The purchase price of $175 million represents about one-and-a-half times the revenues for GT—not bad but certainly not an increase of three times the revenues that some firms expect. Hitachi actually has a very strong consulting business in Japan. The company wants to build a $1 billion services company in five years.
Inside Consulting is written by Tom Rodenhauser as a free weekly supplement to The Rodenhauser Report. The report informs senior advisors and business executives of consulting trends and best practices. Subscription cost is $295 per year for 10 issues. Copyright 2000, Consulting Information Services, LLC. Reproduction is prohibited. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.