Questions remain over Big Four’s return

PricewaterhouseCoopers has categorically stated that it will not re-enter the
big ticket IT implementation market from September 2007 ­ when its IT consulting
non-compete agreement with IBM Global Services runs out.

Ernst & Young’s consulting arm is looking to grow global revenues of $2bn
(£1.06bn) a year by 2010, according to chairman Nick Land.

KPMG’s non-compete ended recently and Deloitte, of course, never left the
marketplace despite seriously considering the option some years ago.

Despite emphatic denials over recent months that they will join Deloitte back
in IT consulting, questions remain. How far down the line will they go? And does
it really matter ­ bearing in mind that Deloitte has entered into strategic
alliances with IT firms and found no public profile or regulatory issues over
possible conflicts of interest?

Cath Hardaker, consulting partner at PKF, acknowledged that the three firms
essentially had no ‘blocker’ to re-enter the IT consulting marketplace,
especially as Deloitte had not faced any investor or regulatory clashes over its
range of offerings.
Deloitte, for example, enjoys alliances with some of the biggest IT businesses
in the world, including BEA, Cognos, EMC, HP, Hyperion, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle
and Sun.

‘I don’t think there’s an external factor for the firms, but it’s more a case
of “are we ready?”‘.

She said there was a ‘grey area’ between management consulting and IT
implementation that firms will face: ‘Where does one start and the other stop?’
She said the firms would reach a point where they have to consider whether they
push the boundaries of working on IT systems, because ‘that’s where the real
fees are’.

Deloitte senior partner Keith Stone said the other firms would face a
‘barrier to entry’ for IT consulting from the competitive recruitment market.

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