In a rare move, A.T. Kearney buys a data analytics consultancy

17 January 2019

Global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney has bought Cervello, an analytics and data management consultancy with offices in the US, the UK and India. Following integration, the acquired company will operate as ‘Cervello, an A.T. Kearney company’. 

The purchase comes at a time when strategy consulting firms – with 3,500 employees A.T. Kearney is among the globe’s ten largest firms specialized in strategy & operations – are investing heavily in their digital footprint amid a boom in digital consulting. McKinsey for instance bought QuantumBlack a while back, and more recently Oliver Wyman bolted-on Draw in the UK, and Bain & Company picked up FRWD, a US-based digital player in the marketing realm.

“Winning with data, that is what it’s all about,” explained Alex Liu, global managing partner and chairman of A.T. Kearney. Founded in 2009, and headquartered in the US, Cervello is regarded a frontrunner in the business analytics space. The company works at the convergence of digital strategy, enterprise performance management, data management, business intelligence, and CRM to help clients gain insights that provide direction to business and functional strategies.

Combined with A.T. Kearney’s management consulting expertise, “Cervello’s team of data engineers, data scientists, and developers will work closely with A.T. Kearney client service teams to power client performance improvement and transformation programs,” said Liu.

A.T. Kearney buys a data analytics consultancy Cervello

The chief executive, who took over from the Dutchman Johan Aurik in May last year, added that Cervello will in addition provide A.T. Kearney with new capacities in the area of big data, cloud, data platforms, applications development and technology-led innovation. “This will help us develop more robust tools and customized solutions for our clients’ most difficult problems.” By integrating Cervello’s solutions and managed services offering into its propositions, Liu expects to be able to provide a more end-to-end offering, while tapping into new opportunities. 

From consulting to solutions and managed services

Extending portfolios into solutions and further down the line managed services is a popular topic in consulting boardrooms. Consultants such as A.T. Kearney are typically engaged for shorter assignments, often on strategy work or to support complex transformations. While fees can be lucrative, the projects tend to be short and finite, meaning that when consultants roll-off, they are faced with the challenge of having to find new revenue streams. Integrating “leave-behind” solutions into their package allows them to not only sustain value-delivery to clients long after the assignment has been completed (nurturing a relationship), but also provides for a more steady, albeit lower, flow of income. 

Strategic consultancy McKinsey & Company is well known for the development of its solutions business (operating as ‘McKinsey Solutions’), with BearingPoint and Mercer other examples of consultancies that have successfully developed solutions that now hold a market-leading position in a niche – BearingPoint’s Abacus is a leader in regulatory compliance within financial services, and Mercer’s Thomsons Online is top of mind among many HR leaders for compensation & benefits planning. 

The integration will see Cervello’s around 120 employees in Boston, New York, Dallas, London and Bengaluru join A.T. Kearney. Scot MacGillivray, CEO of Cervello, remarked: “All of us at Cervello are excited with the news. Joining forces with A.T. Kearney will exponentially increase our business impact to our current and future clients. First, we will dramatically increase our global reach. Second, we see our strengths as blending remarkably well – our technology expertise will embed seamlessly within A.T. Kearney’s deep industry expertise. Third, our clients see the value and urgency in this combination of strengths.”

According to both Liu and MacGillivray, the two companies share a similar approach, anchored on a passion for delivering tangible results and a culture that builds on transparency, collaboration and openness.

A.T. Kearney's M&A

Turning to M&A as a means for growth is a rare move for A.T. Kearney. The last formally announced acquisition the firm closed is that of Quintel in the Netherlands in 2011, and way back, in the 90's, the consultancy bolstered its position in France with the addition of Telesis and in Latin America with Keisai Asociados. In 2010 A.T. Kearney came close to merging with Booz & Company, however the deal feel through reportedly due to a lack of cultural fit. Four years later, Booz was absorbed by PwC, and today operates as Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting subsidiary.

Related: A.T. Kearney boss Alex Liu says firm expects ongoing Middle East growth.


Wellness Workdays acquires health coach Occupational Medical Consulting

22 April 2019

Corporate wellness program advisor Wellness Workdays has acquired health coaching firm Occupational Medical Consulting.

Healthcare approaches have long been premised on after-the-fact treatment, which is both more costly and often less effective than preventative measures. If doctors and public health specialists could get everyone to exercise daily, eat leafy greens, cut down sugar intake, and relax, then national healthcare costs would be a great deal lower. Buy-in is the tough part, however.

From a corporate standpoint, wellness programs are becoming more popular for a number of reasons. For one thing, either health-centric or financial wellness programs can cut down on stress, which in turn can cut down on productivity loss. Health-based wellness programs aim to decrease sick days and illness absences, while lowering health insurance costs and premiums.

According to a Harvard meta-review of research in the field, every $1.00 spent on worksite wellness programs has an expected ROI of $3.27, and when absenteeism is factored in, the return increases to $6.00. In the end, a healthy workforce is a more effective and efficient one – but once again, how do you get buy-in?Wellness Workdays acquires health coach Occupational Medical ConsultingMaine-based OMC’s health wellness program method is physician-driven, and rooted in behavioral science that gets strong results. Behavioral science is a popular field that seeks to understand and exploit the peculiar biases and irrationalities of humans in order to drive favorable policy results. A fun example of behavioral nudging is Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s strategy of painting houseflies inside men’s urinals in order to “improve aim.”

In the case of health coaching, the process might involve playing on people’s loss aversion – setting exercise goals, for example, where you are forced to lose something valuable if you fail to follow through.

The consulting firm reports that its standardized coaching process and proprietary software drive wellness program participation rates well above national norms – reaching 80-95% participation rates on average.  As a result of OMC’s advisory work, clients have decreased behavioral health risks and costs risks – reducing and preventing excess medical spending and insurance premium increases in the process.

OMC has now been acquired by Massachusetts-based wellness consulting firm Wellness Workdays. The consultancy delivers corporate wellness services and nutritional programs that aim to promote employee health and morale, increase productivity, and lower health care costs. The firm’s four-step process covers assessment, strategy, implementation, and evaluation.

Wellness Workdays has additional offices in New York, Florida, and Texas, and has worked with notable clients such as MIT, Brown University, Putnam Investments, and New Balance.

As part of the acquisition OMC will now operate as a subsidiary of Wellness Workdays, and will be rebranded as OMC Wellness.

"OMC provides an exciting opportunity for Wellness Workdays to further enhance and expand its wellness offerings," said Debra Wein, founder and CEO of Wellness Workdays and CEO of OMC. "The organization shares our common vision related to a high-touch, outcomes-driven approach to wellness, as well as a passion and commitment to promote employee health and well-being.

“The acquisition brings our proprietary approach to wellness together with OMC's highly trained health coaches to drive better health outcomes and ultimately, healthier employees," she added.