TECH: Accenture slams hand that fed it well in door, and then stamps on it

This title alone had me really chortling — Accenture Slams CRM As Ineffective. Beyond the fact that no one in health care has yet made CRM work, didn’t anyone at Accenture get the slight irony of this, given they made so much money in the late 1990s.

Let me spell it out a bit more clearly. Who is the leader in CRM software (you know, the stuff that’s ineffective?) Why that was Siebel System which basically invented the concept in the mid 1990s. And what did Siebel do with 10% of its pre-IPO stock? Why they gave it to Accenture (then called Andersen Consulting). And why would they do that? Was there any chance that Accenture might just tell all its clients to put in a CRM system and, given the very tight relationship between Accenture and Siebel, might that just have been a Siebel CRM that they put in?

Now they’re telling us that they didn’t work. Not to worry–remember that Andersen got 10% of the company prior to the 1996 IPO. Remember what happened next?


This article suggests that by 2001 Andersen was down to owning only 3%, suggesting that it had sold some 7% of the company over that time. Siebel’s market cap at about $8 a share is now around $4.5bn, but for most of 2000 and 2001 it was worth more than $50bn which means that if they got their timing right Accenture could have walked off with up to $3 or 4 billion in profits on their investment. All in all not bad for something their clients say is ineffective!  But they’ll need some more consulting to fix that.

The ultimate joke is that Siebel now has a new CEO. Who?  Well it’s George Shaheen, the guy who left Accenture to go to dotcom flame out Webvan at the top of the market….what goes around comes around. But don’t worry — according to the 1996 S-1, Shaheen got 88,000 shares of Siebel stock too, which split 4 times in the next 4 years giving him  over 250K shares.  So if he got any of that off at a decent number, he did just fine.

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2 replies »

  1. Oooh, I wonder if all the CRM consultants will now retool as Human Touch consultants… Of course the minimum wage service workers who have been actually talking to the customers for years will still be getting the shaft.

  2. Most definitely amused in a dark, bitter, disgusted way. Accenture really are a bunch of wankers. I’m really glad the blog didn’t miss the irony of the George Shaheen connection. One of the worst jobs at Siebel was for the TAM’s (technical account managers) whose job it was to stand between Siebel, Accenture and the customer and try to keep all three parties happy. Accenture was notorious for over-selling and then standing back and blaming everyone else when the expectations they had set could not be realized.
    If you only have to wait 6-7 minutes on hold in England then maybe it’s time to move back there. It’s a good day when you have to call whoever and can (a) find their phone number (try that even on SBC’s website – and they’re a phone company!); (b) get through the fucking voice-activated menu full of choices that aren’t what you want (try Cingular’s for that) until you can (c) get through to a real person in less than ten minutes. “We’re receiving unusually high call volume at the moment.” Yeah, right. You fired all the real people in America, haven’t trained the slaves in India yet (or have their salaries tripled to one fifth of the US equivalent already, you don’t like the trend and so they all left you to work for a competitor?). By the way, this is my eleventh call to Blue Cross in three months and in all that time you’ve been telling me about unusually high call volume… Perhaps you should get used to this being usual!
    I’m desperately waiting for the pendulum to swing back. Ironically, it’s griping like this by Accenture that might actually get it to do so. What sticks in the craw is that they stand on the sidelines raking the big bucks and calling the shots, then blaming everyone else when their predictions turn out to be shit – while, of course, offering their services to help companies get it all right again. Back to my old rant about this stupid off-shore trend – and this time I won’t dig into all the negative national and economic security implications of helping to set up our arch-competitors. It wasn’t that long ago when companies were talking about “Core Values” and “Corporate Culture”. It was what made the difference between them and their competitors. Suddenly, the hell with all that. Wankers on Wall Street and with consultants like Accenture had this epiphany that costs should be cut at all costs – including the cost of “Core Values” and “Corporate Culture”. “Bob, you’ve been a helluva guy, we’ve trained you, partied with your attractive family that we’re about to shaft, you’ve made big sacrifices for us, but gosh darn it them Indians sure are cheap. We gotta let you go. No hard feelings. I’m sure you can see it’s the right option for our shareholders.” It’s like disbanding the Iraqi civil service and army. By the time you’ve done it you realized that you wish you hadn’t – but it’s too late.
    The problem is that companies can’t resist this trend even if they don’t agree with it. Wall Street and the consultants have them by the throat. If a company’s cost cuts are not in line with everyone else’s, then the stock gets slaughtered, potential customers get warned off, and so proceeds the downward spiral, etc., until everyone is scared into line. Of course, the consultants line up to advise the poor bastards how to move everything offshore. And then, when – surprise, surprise – customers finally say they’re sick of putting up with this shitty service, Wall Street and the consultants turn around and say how foolishly short-sighted – nay, selfish and money-grabbing! – it was of the companies to have disbanded their loyal, well-trained, experienced, customer-focused American support staff for a bunch of Indians they’ve never met, spoken to, probably not even employed directly; and, you guessed it, line up to recommend how to re-on-shore everything again.
    And that’s why I’m not particularly interested in working in Silicon Valley again any time soon.