Cognizant beats peers in winning consulting business

T. E. Raja Simhan | | Updated on: Mar 12, 2018


Consulting is a tough area to make an acquisition succeed because ‘we are acquiring minds than assets'. – Mr Mark Livingston, Senior V-P and Practice Lead, Cognizant Business Consulting

Cognizant Technology Solutions has managed to beat companies such as Accenture and IBM to get consulting assignments in eight out of the last 10 deals.

“We are not competing with India-centric IT service firms in the consulting space,” said a senior company official.

Accenture and IBM have been in consulting for over five decades while Cognizant started the practice four years ago, said Mr Mark Livingston, Senior Vice-President and Practice Lead, Cognizant Business Consulting.

“We are now bringing in new accounts clients and moving into new geographies to get large IT transformational deals. We brought 30 new clients to Cognizant last year. In the prior year, it was about a dozen. We entered with consulting practice and software delivery followed us,” he said. Clients want to take care right from strategy to operational efficiency to delivery, he said.

In the last four years, the number of consultants with Cognizant has more than doubled to 3,000. Every year, it hires hundreds of MBAs from leading business schools. It has also brought in senior people who have worked with various consulting companies. Mr Livingston himself was with the consulting firm AT Kearney before joining Cognizant four years ago.

“We focused on business process reengineering and IT strategy. We were ranked at number 6 in Vault IT Consulting 25 for 2012, a ranking of the best technology consulting firms to work for, jumping 11 places from 17 in 2011,” he said.

“Some of our competitors separated consulting from technology business. They basically alienated nearly 95 per cent of this business. We integrated consulting with our delivery team and collectively went to the market. That's where most of the consulting firms have failed as they did not build a symbiotic kind of relationships with clients,” he said.

Changing demand

The demand has changed from IT centric, transaction-oriented and cost reduction to more strategic and innovation. Things such as mobility, cloud and social are dominating the agenda with customers. A number of projects are coming in business transformation.

For example, a DVD manufacturer today cannot just product DVDs but also need to produce a whole range of entertainment products. “We help such clients with our consulting on how go about making the transition,” he said.

Financial service is the largest consulting contributor to the consulting business with a lot of compliance- related projects. However, the highest growth is coming from health care and retail, he said.


Consulting is a tough area to make an acquisition succeed because ‘we are acquiring minds than assets.' In the last three years, Cognizant had done four acquisitions in the consulting space.

“Acquisition is important part of our strategy but we do not acquire for scale but for skills, capabilities and to move to new geographies like Europe and Asia Pacific. We have succeeded in making tuck-in acquisitions with 100-200 people companies than a 1,000 people organisation,” he said.

Published on April 17, 2012
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