Accenture Buys 150-Person Mobile Design Firm To Bolster Digital Training, Engineering Expertise

Accenture has purchased a mobile design and development firm to gain new studio capabilities and tap into its highly-regarded digital training program.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company, No. 2 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, said its acquisition of Boston-based Intrepid would accelerate Accenture's investment in leading-edge development tools like Unity and React, according to Ankur Mathur, managing director of Accenture Digital. Intrepid has a great base of data development skills, Mathur said and had been growing its web development capabilities.

Intrepid has grown from just two employees in 2010 to 150 today and was interested in reaching more clients and becoming part of larger projects, according to Mark Kasdorf, Intrepid's CEO. The company had a handful of suitors, Kasdorf told CRN, but none of the other potential buyers provided Accenture's level of alignment and synergies.

[Related: Accenture CEO: We've Moved Half Our Business To Digital, Cloudand Security In Just Four Years]

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"Everything we do, they were very excited about," Kasdorf said. "Everything we don't do, they already have."

Terms of the deal, which closed Tuesday, weren't disclosed. Intrepid will become part of the Interactive division of Accenture Digital – which is focused on customer experience, Mathur said, with the future of the Intrepid brand still undecided.

Bringing Intrepid on board will support Accenture's unique ability to have clients come in and work in a studio development environment, Mathur said. Most of Accenture's existing North American studios focus primarily on design and services, which Mathur said is critical for early-stage digital transformation projects.

But Accenture didn't really have engineering horsepower in its studio environments, Mathur said. That will change with the Intrepid deal, as new and existing Accenture clients will be able to leverage Intrepid's development engineering expertise to co-create and be part of the buildout process, Mathur said.

Intrepid does most of its work today in product development, Kasdorf said, and works closely with the client's vice president of products or chief digital officer rather than the chief marketing officer. Most of Intrepid's customers today are having mobile and digital impact their core business functions, according to Kasdorf.

Intrepid additionally has programs in place that nurture skills in areas like Unity and React, Mathur said. Accenture is now seeing clients ask for more and more of those skills, and Mathur said bringing Accenture on board should help the company keep up with the demand.

Nearly half of Intrepid's workforce has come through the company's training program, which Kasdorf said covers everything from iOS and Android to augmented reality and machine learning. It's pretty much impossible for Intrepid to land employees with experience in those areas given the amount of competition posed by Google, Apple and HubSpot, according to Kasdorf.

"It's pretty much impossible to grow when your product is people," said Kasdorf, who will become a managing director at Accenture and will continue running the Intrepid business.

Kasdorf said Intrepid's paid training program had provided a quality workaround, with the company's 50 new hires in 2016 all going through the program. Intrepid currently runs its training program three times per year, Kasdorf said, with each session including two weeks of classroom learning, five weeks of technical training, and five weeks in the field at a client site.

Intrepid has been told its training program is as good as or better than "boot camp" programs that attendees have to pay to participate in, Kasdorf said. The company has ultimately hired about 70 percent of people that completed the training for permanent positions at Intrepid, according to Kasdorf.

"We've routinely had people applying for the program who are turning down a job at Google," Kasdorf said.

Accenture plans to use the training structure put in place by Intrepid and expand it to cover additional topics, Mathur said. And for training graduates that don't ultimately end up in the Intrepid business, Mathur said they can now work in a different division of Accenture.