Why the Accenture/PacificLink acquisition may be the perfect role model

Accenture’s acquisition of independent digital agency PacificLink was surprising, but not unexpected.

Amid the frenzy of agency acquisitions, the deal is significant on a number of fronts.

The CMO transformation has been underway for a number of years, but the race to bridge the gap between marketing and technology has intensified, as consumer behaviour shifts to digital and mobile devices.

Alvin Lam, group CEO of PacificLink, a company which operates across the marketing, creative, content and big data areas, admitted that a number of traditional 4As groups had approached his company, but none were seen as the right strategic fit.

“Yes, it’s not the traditional path that agencies take, but we found that many 4As groups did not share our strategic vision,” he said.

“From day one, we have tried to develop ways to enrich our clients and offer a full range of digital marketing services. In the search for a partner, we realised we needed a strong technology platform.”

Chief marketing officers are hungry for an integrated offering, and consulting firms such as Accenture, Deloitte, IBM and PwC, have been particularly aggressive in the areas of CRM, e-commerce, big data and digital consulting.

Patricio De Matteis, managing director of Accenture Interactive Asia Pacific, said the needle had well and truly shifted – not just for CMOs, but the CIO, CTO and the CEO.

“The digital agenda doesn’t rest just with the CMO, digital has become everyone’s agenda,” he said.

So much so that revenues from marketing services now sit at about US$2 billion globally and De Matteis expects this to continue.

“We are growing quite fast and we expect that growth will continue and intensify,” he said.

“Even mature markets like Australia and Japan are showing significant growth in terms of the digital customer agenda.”

The rise of omni-channel retail, e-commerce and mobile commerce have seen the digital agenda move beyond marketing and the difference for consulting firms has been an ability to confront the rise of digital with a wider business lens.

“We speak to the whole C-suite and not just the CMO,” said Jason Chau, managing director of Accenture Interactive Greater China.

“There are gaps within CMO businesses and being able to understand how technology can deliver an integrated message to your end consumer is critical. That’s why we think the acquisition of PacificLink is right for us.”

Companies that offer end-to-end solutions and strike the right balance between the emotional connections and business and ROI thinking are primed for growth, particularly in Asia.

Amid the race to bridge the digital divide, acquisitions of this nature will surely be more common.