Accenture Snags Deloitte Exec to Lead New Security Unit, Targets $1B in Sales

Accenture has brought all its security capabilities together under one roof and tasked a longtime Deloitte leader with creating the world's largest security service provider.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company -- No. 2 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 list -- has brought in Kelly Bissell to take Accenture's security practice from between $500 million and $1 billion in annual revenue today to well over $1 billion. Bissell will do this by growing Accenture's presence in such areas as mobile security and traditional governance, risk and compliance (GRC) consulting, the company said.

"Our brand [in security] is not where it needs to be," Omar Abbosh, Accenture's chief strategy officer, told CRN. "It's kind of our own fault, because we haven't emphasized it."

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Accenture's security capabilities had previously been housed in all five of its business units: strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations, Abbosh said. But he added that the $31 billion company increasingly realized that it needed a dedicated, standalone security practice to address industry-specific vulnerabilities associated with incorporating more digital technology into clients' business models.

"We cannot do that [digitally transform companies] without giving them capabilities around security," Abbosh said.

Accenture's key differentiator, Abbosh said, will be having end-to-end solutions tailored to the company's key verticals, such as oil and gas, automotive, financial services and retail. Some competition has also moved in that direction, Abbosh said, but other solution providers are still focusing solely on the technical aspects of security.

"That's a Band Aid on the problem," Abbosh said. "The way Accenture is organized [by industry-specific operating groups] makes it easier to solve the security problem."

Most solution providers have focused too heavily on corporate security at the expense of market-specific operations, Bissell told CRN, meaning that, for instance, the plants, refineries and transmission systems for oil and gas companies or the card processors or payment systems in the banking ecosystem might not be sufficiently secure.

Plus, automobile makers need to think more critically about network security, Bissell said, as connected cars create new vulnerabilities.

Accenture is committed to investing tens of millions of dollars of profits -- along with additional money from its balance sheet -- into bolstering its security practice through both acquisitions and organic growth, Abbosh said. Accenture is already the world's leading integrator of enterprise software, Abbosh said, and one of the top companies globally in unique identity services.

Bissell has spent nearly 14 years at New York-based Deloitte -- No. 16 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 -- leading cyber risk services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), as well as spearheading identity and access management, strategy and governance and incident response service offerings. His first day at Accenture is Monday, and he will hold the title of global managing director for Accenture Security.

Although Bissell considers Deloitte to be a good firm, he said clients really need a large, global service provider like Accenture that's focused on innovation in the security operations space. As a longtime employee at one of Accenture's top rivals, Bissell said he has been studying Accenture monthly, if not weekly, for quite a while.

"I've always been a little bit worried about [competing against] Accenture," Bissell said.

Bissell's experience building a strong security practice at Deloitte, coupled with his expertise in everything from security technology and process to human behaviors and governance, made him an appealing candidate, according to Abbosh. Accenture did examine internal candidates for the role, Abbosh said, but decided to hire from outside.

"We haven't been breeding that [leadership] at the level of seniority we wanted," Abbosh said.

Accenture's main competition in the security space is IBM, the "big four" professional services firms -- PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG -- and niche players in spaces such as the U.S. government, Abbosh said.

But none of those companies offers Accenture's breadth, according to Bissell: IBM is focused mostly on selling its own security products, while the big four and boutique security firms typically dedicate themselves to a very small portion of the overall market.

"We will be able to solve the holistic enterprise problem on a much larger scale than anybody else in the world," Bissell said.