EY strikes back

The big four advisory firms (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, EY) have always had a love-hate relationship with IT. The only one to become a major IT player was the fifth member of this group, Accenture, former Andersen Consulting, which clearly and forcefully embraced IT. The other advisory firms have been struggling to become global advisory and IT players, with several waves of investment and divestment, cost issues and some difficulty in handling both worlds at the same time and being a technology-focused player. But with digital transformation pushing IT to the front stage, the big four are back again as IT generalists.

Among them, EY's approach is quite interesting as they don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, unlike some other players. For now they are focusing on their strongest vertical, financial services, and on their core strengths, relationships at executive level and regulatory consulting credibility, while investing in the most important market today, cyber security. This approach is backed by a platform based on the latest technologies, cloud distribution and optimization capacities, big data analytics, AI and open source collaboration capacities.

Financial services players have to profoundly transform themselves to be ready for new value chains, new partners and new competitors, while also having to comply with more and more regulations, but they cannot afford to do all of this. EY offers them a compliance-based approach, with the "lines of business" as main clients, based on its open technology platform, which delivers several key anti-cyber crime solutions such as anti-money laundering.

With financial institutions being constantly subject to massive and numerous cyber attacks while regulations keep tightening, this is an interesting bet. EY offers to mutualize its IP solutions and rare human resources with several clients, always with large scope for customization (thanks to open source and microservices), cutting-edge capabilities (AI and big data), and some best-of-breed products such as Pegasystems, Tableau or Microsoft Security. EY doesn't directly sell the platform but a service enablement software model, as a service model, with yearly engagements, which provides a quick business-centric ROI, while the technology is abstracted. This allows EY to reenter the managed services market with what we call BaaS (Business as a Service), or next-gen BPO).

This is a market stretched for resources, with cutting-edge technologies and a great sales model: “Dear executives, we will quickly solve your compliance issues with a mainly OPEX-based solution that we will run for you”. Financial services companies have to act fast as their executives are legally bound. They have few other solutions. With this offering, EY really strikes back in IT.