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Accenture Acquires UK-Based ?What If!

Mar 11, 2019
by Josh Anderson

LONDON – Accenture has acquired ?What If!, a privately owned firm that uses an experimentation-driven approach to help clients incubate new products, services, business models and organizational cultures. The acquisition will enhance Accenture’s front-end innovation capabilities to help clients rapidly ideate, prototype and scale innovative products and services for the digital economy. The terms of acquisition were not disclosed.

Headquartered in London, with additional offices in New York and Shanghai, ?What If! applies provocative and bold thinking with fast iterative testing to help clients build agile and adaptive organizations. Since its establishment in 1992, ?What If! has developed many programs, tools and methods to train and educate people and organizations on building an innovation culture, including proprietary metrics that can measure the commercial viability of a project. The firm has codified the individual and organizational mindsets, skills and working practices that are needed to spark and sustain innovative thinking within large, established organizations, serving as a trusted C-suite advisor.

“With digital technologies converging, consumer expectations rising, and businesses under constant pressure to stay ahead of the digital curve, the only path forward is constant innovation to ensure flexibility and agility across every business function,” said Eric Schaeffer, a Senior Managing Director at Accenture, who leads its Global Industrial practice and its Products Industry X.0 Practice. “The acquisition of ?What If! is a significant addition to our innovation-engine capabilities.”

?What If! serves FTSE 100 and other leading companies across a variety of industries — including healthcare, finance, high tech, industrial, mobility, and consumer goods and services. Its primary areas of focus include brand and customer engagement, product innovation, and enterprise innovation. For instance, the firm helped a food and beverage company develop a strategy to bring to market a new type of coffee; the new product sold nearly 1 million packs within four weeks and became the company’s most successful coffee launch ever. Using its rapid experimentation-led approach, ?What If! also helped a financial services company launch a new card product faster than it had ever done, exceeding customer-acquisition goals in its first year.

?What If!’s more than 150 employees possess a wide range of innovation skills, including strategy, insight and research, ideation, design and commercial analytics. The firm’s distinct experimentation framework and team of experts will complement Accenture’s multidisciplinary teams of designers, developers and other technology experts who work with clients to investigate, imagine and bring to life new ideas in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, connected products and devices.

“Together with ?What If!, we will help C-suite executives ask the right questions at the front end of their innovation journeys, imagine the ‘art of the possible,’ and then reinvent themselves — a core part of Accenture’s Living Business growth proposition for clients,” added John Zealley, who leads Accenture’s Customer Insight & Growth Practice.

“Over the last 26 years we have continued to push and re-invent our innovation process, rooted in human centered design, lean iteration and agile economics, to help companies to embrace innovation and empower transformation from the inside,” said Dave Allan, a ?What If! Co-Founder and Board Member. “By joining forces with Accenture, we can industrialize and scale our frameworks and methodologies, offering our existing client base a broad range of technology-related capabilities. Together, we’ll be uniquely positioned to enable companies to imagine new futures and turn disruptive ideas into innovative digital solutions that drive business performance.”

About Accenture: Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 469,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.

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