Hiring Market Trends : Digital Transformation Consulting

This article is an excerpt from the Digital Procurement & Spend Management Insider report published in May 2022 which is available to download here.

Much of the recent hiring, particularly in the UK market, has been at relatively junior levels as the major consultancies invest in developing talent for the future — which undoubtedly should be celebrated. So, well done to the likes of KPMG and Deloitte for that.

More senior moves have, not surprisingly, been less frequent in recent months after a busy period last year. But a sign of the success that the major organisations are having are two notable promotions reflecting the importance of digital transformation to the Big 4’s long-term presence in the procurement market.

Eniko Fulop, highly regarded in the sector since her time at Xoomworks, has joined Paul Desrosiers in making Partner at KPMG, reflecting the success their “Powered Procurement” practice has enjoyed, largely in alliance with Coupa. Meanwhile, at Deloitte, Kathryn Thompson has also been promoted to Partner demonstrating her success in leading its procurement practice.

These promotions are really significant for several reasons. Firstly, they demonstrate the growth in this market given that procurement focused partners in the Big 4 have previously been in relatively small numbers compared to other lines of business.

Secondly, it’s refreshing to see outstanding female talent gaining the recognition they deserve in such important organisations. These moves will undoubtedly give them an advantage over the competition in hiring the best female talent in the profession.

One notable senior move is that of Al Adedayo who joins KPMG from EY as a Partner in the operations team. He brings a depth of expertise in procurement and supply chain along with experience in ESG and sustainability that will further strengthen KPMG’s position in the sector.

The other big news in the sector focuses on important strategic acquisitions. Buying Xoomworks will give Accenture a huge opportunity to capitalise on its strong reputation, particularly in the mid-market with Coupa, in the UK, France, Germany and the Nordic countries.

These are territories that are clearly seen as having real growth potential by Coupa given the aforementioned hiring of salespeople in those countries. So expect to see the combined forces of Xoomworks and Accenture win some major projects there. Commenting on the acquisition in October, Jan Van Den Bremen, senior managing director and Accenture’s Intelligent Platform Services Europe Lead, said:

“Intelligent platforms and ecosystem partners play a pivotal role in bringing together the major capabilities needed to run a modern enterprise and take advantage of new business models. With the addition of Xoomworks, we are expanding our deep technology expertise to further help accelerate the path to value for our clients at speed.”

PwC’s acquisition of supply chain and IBP specialist Olivehorse will give it a unique offering to the market given its track record with SAP and Anaplan. Alistair Kett, Consulting Supply Chain and Operations Leader at PwC, was quoted on the PwC website at the time of the announcement as follows:

“I’m delighted that Olivehorse are joining PwC. By combining our capabilities, people, networks and credentials, we are reflecting, in very real terms, our ambition to invest and grow quickly in this market. The challenges facing the UK and global economies in the field of supply, scarcity and disruption will all need innovative and technology-enabled solutions and our new joint team is very well positioned to deliver these.”

With the increased competition in this market for the major transformation projects along with the need to adapt to the evolution of the market through the ever-increasing array of best- of- breed tools, what is the future for the other SME niche specialists, like ExceleratedS2P, in the sector?

Not forgetting Deloitte’s acquisition of Keytree late in 2020, the trend does suggest that these smaller organisations will be acquired by the big players intent on adding customers, talent and capability through acquisition to boost their presence in the sector.

However, the emergence of Lance Younger’s ProcureTech and other smaller niche providers cropping up across Europe suggests the market will continue to evolve, maintaining the choice available to CPOs.

It’s worth noting that in the UK, where a change in tax regime has had a significant effect on the interim market, there is a small but growing trend towards experienced contractors with similar skillsets collaborating on implementation projects, which in some cases is creating micro-consultancies with deep, specialist implementation expertise, particularly in P2P and S2C.

We expect they will continue to thrive as a less costly alternative to the big-name consultancies, but like most areas of this overall market, there are only so many good people to meet the growing demand, so competition for their services will remain strong.