Accenture goes on the marketing charm offensive at MWC

Accenture's push at Mobile World Congress

On the back of acquiring UK creative agency Karmarama and one of Germany’s leading digital agencies within the space of four months, Accenture Digital was on a mission at this year’s Mobile World Congress to show how it can be a single partner, not just a consultant, on big brand transformation briefs.

Its appearance in Barcelona was part of an ongoing attempt to simplify what is an increasingly complicated business. Accenture Digital is just one of five businesses inside of Accenture, and it too is made up of three arms: Mobility, Interactive and Analytics.

Mobility is the engineering division, Interactive is the design and experience arm (which houses Karmarama among its other traditional marketing agencies) and finally Analytics is about dissecting performance.

Connecting all of Accenture Digital’s offerings is the ‘Accenture Innovation Architecture’ which debuted at the trade show to “highlight the company’s innovation-led approach for helping clients develop and deliver disruptive innovations, and to scale them faster”.

It’s comprised of six parts: Accenture Research, Accenture Labs, Accenture Studios, Accenture Innovation Centres and Accenture Delivery Centres, as well as its start-up accelerator Accenture Ventures.

These piece parts have been in place for a number of years but the articulation of how it all ties together is new. What Accenture is looking to prove is that it can take companies from researching the latest technologies, to R&D and prototyping new concepts, designing and marketing a service around them, right through to scaling it across the world.

“Our Innovation Architecture is a span of capabilities that range from innovating around the very newest idea that we’re hearing in technology and business, all the way through to scaling and distributing those ideas,” Jim Bailey, senior managing director of Accenture Mobility, part of Accenture Digital, told The Drum.

“We’re showcasing it here in Mobile World Congress because it’s part of a message we’re sending to the market – which is that Accenture is an innovation led company. We want to be bringing new ideas, innovations and technologies to clients.”

The majority of Accenture’s clients (96%) have been on its books for more than 10 years, and it’s this group it’s trying to hand-hold through innovations like autonomous cars, drones, internet of things and artificial intelligence.

During the conference, it held somewhere in the region of 900 meetings over four days (up from around 700 the year before), 80% of which were directly with current or prospective clients.

Bailey said it’s emblematic of a shift it’s seen in recent years as more C-Level executives embrace the technologies shaping the future. Where before Accenture would have been pitching to the “mobile person” within a company, today it’s the chief executive.

“In past years, Mobile World Congress was very much focused on the communications side of the industry; the launch of a new handset or network innovation. You’ll still see companies like Samsung or Vodafone [here] but the portion of the show that focuses on that continues to decline each year,” he said.

“Mobile World Congress is now ‘Digital World Congress’, it’s about a pivot to the digital age and from the meetings that we’ve had more than half are outside that traditional audience that would come to MWC. From an airline company to a manufacturing company – it really spans the gamut.”

Such interest from brand bosses on working with a consultancy firm on everything from transformation strategy through to its execution will likely not come as welcome news to all.

Despite what might be seen as a mounting threat, the boss of advertising giant WPP – which is finding itself increasingly up against Accenture and others for business – Sir Martin Sorrell said this week (3 March) that these firms are not "significant."

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