Sema Group develops consultancy muscle

Sema Group is changing its business proposition from being primarily a systems integrator, increasing its focus on management consultancy.

It aims to work with clients further up the business cycle so that it can build tighter relationships.

“Our aim is to focus on select industry sectors and move the whole company up the value-chain, starting earlier in business cycle,” said Sue Altschuler, head of Sema Group Consulting. “The consulting input is very important because it is that that creates the innovative business relationships.”

To meet its new vision the firm is intent on aggressively growing its consultancy practice to 2,000 consultants by the year 2001. The key industry sectors in which Sema will be acquiring consultancy firms will be in travel; transport; retail and logistics; energy and utilities; the finance sector; and the public sector. It expects to grow European consulting revenues to #200m by 2001.

“This cannot be done organically, we will have to achieve increased headcount by acquisition. There are about 1,000 consultants in the UK, so we have to multiply those by four. It is probably easier for us to achieve that in the UK than in Europe, where they are low on consulting skills,” said Altschuler.

The group saw turnover increase by 21.9 per cent to #1.1m at the end of December 1997. Consultancy turnover is already over the #55m mark and the UK represents more than half the firm’s consulting capability.

“Consulting revenue for the UK has grown at the same rate as the number of people: by 50 per cent,” said Altschuler.

Some of that growth also came by acquisition; when the firm took over British Rail Business Systems it took on another 70 consultants.

Sema has re-engineered its consultancy practice in preparation for the growth, dividing consultants who focus on new accounts from the remainder, who work in key accounts across industry sectors.

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