EY continues technology consulting push with Plaut IT acquisition

04 February 2019 Consultancy.com.au

Professional services firm EY has continued its push into technology consulting with the acquisition of Plaut IT, growing its Australian Technology unit to more than 1,100 people. 

The deal is EY’s fourth digital acquisition in seven months, as the firm beefs up its digital capabilities amid a booming market. According to the latest data available, digital transformation now accounts for nearly one quarter of Australia’s US$5 billion management consulting market.

Lynn Kraus, Advisory leader at EY Oceania, said that the bolt-on aligns with EY’s strategy to build a practice capable of providing “end-to-end delivery” to clients. “Historically we had a deep understanding of processes, but we've had to bring someone else on board to deliver on the technology part of the transformation. My ambition is to shift from being an advisory business to being a true transformation partner.” 

Founded in 2000, Plaut IT specialises in ERP and cloud consulting services. The company works for large private sector groups, such as Amatil, BHP Billiton, Coca-Cola, SCT Logistics and Toyota, as well as state and federal government departments. The firm’s footprint consists of offices in Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, Melbourne and Newcastle. Plaut IT also has a subsidiary in Malaysia, trading as Baseliner – together the group employs 130 professionals and generates revenues of around $32.2 million (FY17). 

“With the purchase of Plaut IT, EY is now positioned to compete in the larger end-to-end SAP sector, while the Baseliner entity also provides EY with the ability to provide cloud enterprise solutions in Oceania. We expect these additional capabilities will accelerate the digital transformation opportunities available to the business,” Kraus said.

Plaut IT is now part of EY in Asia-Pacific

Just three months ago, EY’s Australian Advisory arm also bought Adelphi Digital Consulting Group, a digital consultancy with around 170 employees in Australia, Singapore and Thailand, and Articulate Consulting, a Sydney-based change management consultancy. 

Meanwhile, across the Asia Pacific region and particularly Malaysia, the Plaut IT deal complements EY’s 2017 acquisition of Brightree, and the pickup of cybersecurity firm Xynapse in September last year. By joining forces with existing operations, EY enhances the expertise and credentials of its SAP center of excellence for Asia Pacific clientele, while better positioning the firm to compete for larger end-to-end SAP deals in the sector.

A logical move

The takeover builds on an extended period of collaboration between the two consulting firms. According to newspaper AFR, EY had regularly partnered with Plaut IT on contracts for more than five years, with an acquisition a logical step for both firms, said Kraus. Asked about why EY opted for buy-and-build over an in-house grooming strategy, Kraus said: “Plaut IT has experience doing large-scale SAP transformations for clients and that's a skill that's very hard to find in the marketplace and it's very hard to grow organically.”

David Prior, Chairman of Plaut IT, remarked, “The acquisition provides our team with a well-rounded set of capabilities and skills and provides the potential for us to work on large scale business transformations. We are excited about the work we will now have the opportunity to participate in.”

The integration sees Plaut IT’s businesses in Australia and Malaysia rebrand as EY, with Prior becoming a partner in EY’s Technology service area in Sydney. 

EY is not alone in its foray into digital. Large rivals are also making major investments in this area. In January, Accenture bought Australian Oracle consultancy PrimeQ in a deal worth $31 million. Of the Big Four firms, Deloitte has been the most active poacher in recent times, having purchased speech analytics business KnowledgeSpace, SAP partner Nesoi Solutions, IT consultancy JKVine, data science consultancy Connected Analytics, software developer Well Placed Cactus, and Amazon Web Services specialist CloudTrek.

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