March 22, 2011
KPMG’s recent acquisition of Equaterra signals some new dynamics in the market for outsourcing advisory services. The acquisition creates an intriguing combination of capabilities encompassing high-level consulting services for tax, supply chain management and IT strategy with Equaterra’s proven outsourcing transaction strengths. Moreover, it confirms a mini-wave of industry consolidation following TPI parent company’s Information Services Group (ISG) acquiring long-time benchmarking specialist Compass (more recently, ISG acquired public sector specialist STA Consulting).
The mini-wave of consolidation may seem paradoxical given that growth has returned to the outsourcing marketplace. Forrester believes the overall market for such services will grow 7.1% to $254B this year. If the outsourcing market is again growing, why are the winds of industry consolidation blowing? Although the opportunity is broadening, large mega-deals that firms like TPI and Equaterra grew to prominence on are getting scarcer and scarcer. Moreover, clients are taking a more holistic view of outsourcing alongside evaluating shared services and other organizational dynamics, creating the need for a broader value proposition extending beyond transactional services. Although many outsourcing advisory firms have gone down this path with strategy and research services, the KPMG-Equaterra combination creates an unusually strong combination. KPMG, which heretofore had lagged principal competitors PwC and Deloitte in the scale of its outsourcing advisory service, should benefit substantially from the addition of Equaterra’s resources and capabilities.