Accenture announced the acquisition of UK-based Genfour, a pure-play automation service provider, on April 3, for an undisclosed sum. As a cross-platform systems integrator and deployment specialist of robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent automation technologies, Genfour has experience in assessing, implementing, and managing automation solutions. This will strengthen Accenture's growing automation practice as customer demand continues to increase. The acquisition is the latest in a long chain of Accenture acquisitions in which cloud, security, and digital transformation – all centerpieces of Accenture's growth strategy – are the primary focus.
Acquiring Genfour is an effective means of addressing the industry-wide automation skills shortage
Genfour, a privately held company with headquarters in Cwmbran, Wales, has five years' experience working with clients across multiple industries at the forefront of automation adoption: insurance, banking, and utilities. The firm's employees, with their experience with multiple automation technologies (UiPath, Blue Prism, Celaton, and Niu Solutions), are key to the value of this acquisition. Automation skill sets are in short supply within enterprises and within some service providers; even those providers that have such skills realize the constant need to recruit, acquire (sometimes through deals like this one), and retain automation talent. In addition, enterprise customers are turning to service providers to offset their internal automation skills deficit. Some automation technologies such as RPA are designed to be used by business users with process knowledge versus programmers – setting up the rules of process automation is said to be like using a process diagramming tool such as Visio. Genfour's talent complements Accenture's existing automation capabilities, and strengthens its position in the UK and Ireland, as the shift toward automation accelerates.
High on the agenda of enterprise C-level executives, automation is increasingly viewed as a means of effecting efficiency improvement in large organizations. It is, in many respects, achieving the promise that business process reengineering alone could not. Automation initiatives can start small to great effect, by tackling processes and areas one bit at a time, demonstrating success and measurable KPIs often in weeks rather than months or years. Plus, it is not offshoring, which is struggling to tick all the boxes as the sentiment of economic nationalism rises and continued cost savings diminish. Automation is an effective door opener, or conversation starter, with enterprise clients, and once under way it is a good way to increase understanding of the challenges clients are facing. Related and surrounding problem areas may not be so relevant to pure-play automation service providers, but Accenture is capable of a more holistic, efficiency-driven approach to problem-solving here. Also, automation can be a complementary partner to or an integral component of digital transformation. Genfour is a natural fit with Accenture's other acquisitions, especially those that include digital transformation consultants, and a fit with its strategic focus on using enterprise data collectively through automation, higher-level analytics, and artificial intelligence.
Accenture has implemented automation solutions with more than 80% of its existing operations clients to date. Automation often starts small and continues throughout the organization, suggesting that what is already automated within enterprises currently is merely the tip of the iceberg. Genfour's workforce will underpin the creation of a new Accenture Center of Excellence for Intelligent Automation, as Accenture attempts to alleviate its customers' shortage of automation skills.
Miriam Deasy, Senior Analyst, Large Enterprise Services