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Accenture Buys European ServiceNow Player To Stretch Capabilities Beyond IT Service Management

Michael Novinson

Accenture has purchased a 70-person ServiceNow consultancy to expand its capabilities around security and human resources and strengthen its position in the United Kingdom.

The Dublin, Ireland-based systems integrator -- No. 2 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 -- said its acquisition of London-based Focus Group Europe will bolster Accenture's ability to support ServiceNow in other areas of the business aside from IT, such as human resources, legal and customer support functions, according to Jack Sepple, senior managing director of Accenture Cloud & Security, and global technology officer for Accenture Operations.

"I'm proud of the way we've pivoted at Accenture to be ahead on this stuff," Sepple told CRN. "I think we did a great job in recognizing the cloud opportunity early, almost five years ago, and investing in areas we thought would grow."

[RELATED: Accenture Buys Another ServiceNow Partner As It Aims to Be 'Number One' Worldwide In ServiceNow Capabilities]

The deal will more than double the company's ServiceNow capabilities in the U.K., making Accenture the largest ServiceNow provider in revenue and number of accreditations, Sepple said. Accenture was already the top ServiceNow provider in North America thanks to its October 2015 acquisition of Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas and its November 2016 acquisition of Alberta-based Nashco.

The Focus Group acquisition closed Monday night, Sepple said, and all of the company's employees are expected to join Accenture. Sepple said the company plans to eventually fold the Focus Group brand into Accenture.

Local support is important for ServiceNow since the design and implementation process requires a lot of customer interaction, Sepple said. Clients also benefit from being in close proximity to strong architects who can help them figure out how to most effectively leverage cloud, he said.

Accenture's cloud practice captured $4.5 billion in sales in fiscal 2016, which ended Aug. 31, after achieving an annual growth rate well above the industry average for cloud services, Sepple said. The company placed a $400 million bet on cloud in early 2013 as the industry was growing, Sepple said, and is now reaping the benefits of a more mature sector.

Accenture plans to utilize Focus Group's security and identity management technology around ServiceNow's basic service management function, Sepple said, and extend its existing support for clients' human resources functions through Focus Group's capabilities. Focus Group is of the U.K.'s largest independent pure-play ServiceNow company and enjoys extremely high customer satisfaction scores, Sepple said.

ServiceNow had initially been used primarily in the IT service management space, but quick configuration, a flexible platform and fast time to results has made it attractive for a broader set of business functions, Sepple said. The embrace of ServiceNow has been disruptive to the offerings of traditional on-premise competitors in the IT service management space, he said.

"In the past, there were a number of tools being brought to bear," Sepple said. "Now we're really doubling down on ServiceNow."

ServiceNow has found greenfields in other business areas where individual units had been tracking their own information with spreadsheets rather than with a more centralized, integrated Software-as-a-Service offering, Sepple said.

For instance, Sepple said ServiceNow provides more wraparound support around human resources rather than duplicating core functions delivered by HR-focused SaaS offerings such as Oracle and Workday. Accenture plans to use Focus Group's capabilities to upsell existing U.K.-based customers and go after other Global 2000 firms interested in ServiceNow, Sepple said.

"Each of those functional areas has gotten mature SaaS products in their space," Sepple said.

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