NEW YORK: Accenture Interactive has acquired digital optimization company, Clearhead, in a move that promises to supply clients with a platform for continuous test-and-learn, and an opportunity to compete with agile digital native businesses.

Announcing the purchase, for an undisclosed fee, of the Texas-based company, Accenture Interactive emphasised the focus on customer experience.

“Experience is the new battleground in the digital world,” said Glen Hartman, head of Accenture Interactive North America, adding that the firm is responding to client intentions to “increase the tests they run by a factor of ten year over year.”

The acquisition follows a number of high profile purchases by professional services companies in recent months. In March, an article in Adweek quoted Julie Langley, a partner at Results International, an M&A and fundraising advisory firm, who noted that the type of projects that consultancies are now taking on have a new focus.

Increasingly, consultancy projects “have ‘customer experience’ at their centre,” Langley told the magazine. As this skillset has historically been dominated by agencies, if consultancies don’t acquire these, “they will slowly see their core revenues eroded by others who do,” she added.

Yet consultancies have a big advantage over specialist agencies: the scale of the projects that they take on is much larger. Speaking to WARC in Cannes, Joydeep Bhattacharya, Managing Director at Accenture Interactive, explained the offer.

“We’re very results oriented in the consulting business,” he said, noting the company’s focus on driving “end-to-end accountability.” For instance, in its work for a “leading car manufacturer” Accenture gets paid “for every car sold – not lead generation”.

Despite remarks from traditional holding group bosses, such as Sir Martin Sorrell, who called the consultancy threat “insignificant,” Accenture Interactive’s $4.4bn business saw it named the largest global digital network by AdAge, for the second year running.

The purchase of Clearhead is the fourteenth acquisition that Accenture Interactive has made since 2013. Other acquisitions in Accenture’s current fiscal year include creative agencies The Monkeys/Maud (Australia) and Karmarama (UK), communications agency Kunstmaan (Belgium), and digital agency SinnerSchrader (Germany).

Data sourced from Accenture, AdWeek, The Drum; additional content by WARC staff