Deloitte Digital considers potential Scottish office launch if Yes vote triumphs in referendum

Deloitte Digital – currently in the early stages of a massive recruitment drive – is considering where its main business hubs might be should Scotland vote ‘yes’ in the September referendum.

The agency’s head, Sam Roddick, spoke to The Drum after the agency officially opened the doors to its London office last Friday (27 June) where the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, outlined the organisation’s ambitious recruitment plans.

Roddick said they will be hiring talent for its two main hubs, London and Belfast, but went on to reveal that there have been informal conversations around what course of action Deloitte would take if the Scottish Independence vote goes through in September.

“We have two centres at the moment [London and Belfast] – what would happen if independence came along?,” he said. “We may decide it’s necessary to create something within Glasgow or Edinburgh depending on how it turns out.”

Across the consulting business, 4,500 people are being hired and, specifically, 500 jobs will be created at Deloitte Digital over the next 18 months.

Roddick said he is looking to increase the agency’s efficiencies in product and proposition ideation as well as upping its advisory capability with digital and industry expertise in a bid to help clients with day to day strategy. He is also planning to recruit “heavily” around engineering.

Deloitte Digital is the latest in a new breed of agencies born from management consultancies which are now placing themselves in the centre of the strategic decision making of the brands. Accenture Interactive launched in 2009 and IBM opened its Interactive Experience wing earlier this year.

But Roddick said he doesn’t see the offering as a threat to the traditional digital agency model – in fact Deloitte Digital was established in response to the growing trend of digital agencies moving into the business consultations space.

“Traditional marketing and advertising is very much under threat and the lines between marketing and operation of a business are beginning to blur. Yes, there is still a marketing campaign to increase customer awareness but now every single interaction a customer has with an organisation is part of marketing so we’re seeing a lot of bleed of marketing into business,” he told The Drum.

“My view point is that there is a lot more encroachment from agencies into what has traditionally been a consulting business than you are seeing consulting businesses encroaching into the agency space and that’s because clients are moving away from than pure marketing brief. And the only way we can respond is to move with them.”

Roddick explained that the agency was established in light of frequently dealing with the CMO of a company, rather than the CIO as was previously the case, who were in need of not only business advice but creative guidance on implementation and an end-to-end technology solution.

In creating Deloitte Digital, the organisation consolidated its digital advisory practice, engineering capabilities and creative user experience.

He concedes that Deloitte’s competitor set has inevitably widened, and it now finds itself pitching against the likes of SapientNitro, Accenture, and DigitasLbi as well as continuing to stand up against its fellow “big four” advisory firms – PWC, Ernst & Young, KPMG, - who have similarly made moves to building a digital business.

It has thus far been working on “transformational work” with its clients, particularly those in the financial (insurance and banking) sectors who have been slow to embrace digital.

“The penny is only just beginning to drop for them,” he said. “So we’re reimagining the business for those clients and that requires some heavy integration with back office systems. It’s hard for a single agency to deliver that.”

For other briefs in the retail and media sector which “have been hit heavily already by digital” it looks to drive revenue growth and take clients through to the implementation of an e-commerce site.

In either case, Roddick says it is about delivering a “businesses outcome” as opposed to a digital project.

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