Analysis: The inside track on the Accenture acquisition of the Salesforce and Google partner from Saideep Raj, Accenture and David Northington, MD Cloud Sherpas.
2015 is the year Accenture got out its chequebook.
It bought UK Salesforce consultancy Tquila in May this year. In April it was part of a $42m Salesforce led investment round in Salesforce partner Vlocity. And in September it acquired outright another Salesforce Consultancy Cloud Sherpas.
Why did it buy Cloud Sherpas?
It wasn’t just its great name. But it was in large part because of the talent that the name suggests.
The firm was built on individual dedicated expertise. And it was the talent within that attracted Saideep Raj and the Accenture acquisition team to buy the consultancy.
The deal was announced at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
Saideep Raj, Managing Director of Accenture Cloud First Applications Team Accenture, says "Accenture is boldly investing in this space. We are driving a cloud first agenda, which is about proactively positioning cloud solutions to our clients. And it is very compelling. So we did the acquisition with Tquila."
The number of clients asking about cloud is accelerating and we’re reaching a tipping point on increasing scale. That’s the rationale behind the expansion with Cloud Sherpas. More of our clients are asking to do bigger and better stuff with Salesforce and we want to be able to take our leadership and meet that growing demand."
Why did Cloud Sherpas accept the Accenture offer?
David Northington, CEO at Cloud Sherpas, said: "We see the same demand. We’ve seen projects grow. We’ve seen request for benefits and innovation and transformation go from simple to more elaborate. People can do more with the solutions, they are doing it in more countries, They want to spread it across more groups. And we saw the same tipping point beginning to evolve. So we like the idea of having a larger global footprint through Accenture, more resources and more ways to attack the market."
In the Salesforce space it has 11 Certified Technical Architects (CTAs) alongside a similar number of high end architects in the Google. Cloud Sherpas also has a well established business and expertise in the ServiceNow market. The 11 CTAs may not sound like many but a CTA in Salesforce is not just a technical architect, they are business solutions and technical experts.
Some people call them platform ‘gods.’
The certification is extremely difficult to achieve. In short they are much prized talent.
"We have a very high end programme with the most certified technical architects in the Salesforce ecosystem. And a programme we’ve put together to bring new folks to the table and have them certified," says Northington.
Cloud Sherpas is not just a Salesforce play. The firm is the largest Google for Work partner says Northington. "We’re the largest partner for Google with over one million seats of that software are sold on our paper and we provide the managed software and support for those accounts."
The business is across US, UK, and Australia. It is 60% US, and split evenly in the other territories.
"In the Salesforce space, our largest vertical is financial services and that’s where we produce the full Force solutions for wealth management, insurance and one in retail banking."
The consultancy works on Salesforce in high tech, manufacturing and in healthcare where ‘we have a nice emerging position.’
It is Fullforce master certified in sales cloud, service cloud and financial services and has a communities cloud practice.
Is Accenture ‘packing the bench?’
Saideep Raj, says, "Talent is definitely a driver. The deep skills that Cloud Sherpas brings are scarce in the arena, in the entire market. Accenture has seven of these certified technical architects, think of them as the uber architects – they are ‘gods of architecture’ and there’s a pipeline of more. When you have that deep technical base it pulls along an enormous following around the application arena as well."
"We’re the great engine of building these people and now we’ve got 6k Salesforce consultants at Accenture. These people live and breathe Salesforce and we’re scaling and adding depth of talent in areas where we’re seeing growth."
The Force platform solutions developed by Cloud Sherpas are also key.
In September Accenture also made a deal with Salesforce to extend the complete Accenture CAS software suite to the Salesforce1 Platform. Accenture and Salesforce will offer consumer goods companies a single system of engagement for sales and trade marketing processes. The first phase of the rollout, which is scheduled for release in calendar year 2016
"We made the announcement on Vlocity and we talked about these industry clouds. And we’re replatforming our CAS software onto the Salesforce platform," says Raj.
David Northington says the reaction to the deal inside Cloud Sherpas was positive. "We have been on this journey. We did seven small acquisitions and with each one we evolved. Four years ago we were 100 people. And in four years we grew to 1100 people. So every few months we were reviewing the processes and procedures and we looked like a different company every few months. The projects grew and our recruiting developed. Our team is comfortable with the growth and this is a natural next step and that’s how our folks are seeing the opportunity."
Salesforce Dreamforce – as a major SI partner, what got Accenture excited?
Saideep Raj says: "The platform is starting to see some maturity. The platform strategy that Salesforce has had over the years has been quite progressive in terms of pieces coming together. Clients love the platform but a lot of activity has been around customising core CRM. Now we see some richness to the way the platform is developing. So with the App cloud for example we see a lot of our clients now wanting to understand and get into it. This is coming from the core IT group core IT group and we expect higher adoption."
David Northington said: "Last year we jumped on the Wave (Salesforce analytics platform) topic. Our first use case was with a big insurance company. They had big data analytics but couldn’t deploy it out to the people who needed it. Putting the analytics on the phone is very meaningful."
Saideep Raj, said: "Salesforce want a much broader scope. It is not just core CRM anymore but about touching the entire process and for that they are looking to partners like us."
David Northington, says "The tipping point concept is solving more problems. There is still a lot of on premise technology, a lot of white space that needs to evolve into the cloud."