Andersen Consulting’s managing partner George Shaheen has vowed not to let the ongoing dispute with Arthur Andersen hinder his ambition to reshape the consultancy industry.
The arbitration process has now reached what Andersen officials describe as “the private part” and both parties have agreed not to discuss it in public. At the recent Andersen Consulting analyst conference in New York, Shaheen said: “We remain very confident about our position and comfortable about the outcome, but this is not a speedy process.” He added: “What we have accomplished is virtually unaffected by the arbitration: only a small number of partners are focused on the arbitration, all the others are focused on our clients. We could all get into the arbitration tub together: if we did that the problem would solve itself.”
Shaheen claimed that Andersen is now ready to “build the consulting firm of the future” and to effect a similar transformation in the whole industry.
“Why has Andersen Consulting been so successful? We were early in recognising that we had the power to define the future of our industry. There was an opportunity to play in that space and relegate the traditional players to market niches,” he said. By doing it we brought in a couple of juggernauts: EDS and IBM – but if they play they play by our rules.”
He claims that Andersen is taking on the role of building the infrastructure for industry and commerce in the 21st century. The consulting firm of the future will be an integral part of 21st century management, not just serving clients but part of serving entire industries,” he said. “The collective know-how of a firm like Andersen is too great to be taken to market on a project-to-project basis.”
He was scathing about consultancy mergers: “It’s clearly necessary to get more critical mass for a consultancy organisation,” he said. “But the Big Six are lower 2nd to upper 3rd tier consultancies. I’m not sure what you get by putting two of them together – I don’t know what the ‘secret sauce’ is that they’re going to use. It’s not a market share issue.” (For the full story see page 31).
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