Case Study: A.T. Kearney and the New Defining Entity

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Michael Carter prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Donald W. Barclay solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.

Ivey Management Services prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmittal without its written permission. This material is not covered under authorization from CanCopy or any reproduction rights organization.

Copyright © 1998, Ivey Management Services. One time permission to reproduce granted by Ivey Management Services on September 20, 2006.

It was early Monday morning, September 22, 1996, and Brian Harrison, president of A. T. Kearney (Canada), was in his Chicago office preparing for an upcoming meeting. A. T. Kearney, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, was one of the world’s largest and most respected global management consulting firms. On Friday, Brian was to meet with the rest of the Toronto management team to review the activities of the firm since its acquisition by Electronic Data Systems (EDS) just over a year ago and to discuss the strategic direction of the firm moving forward. Of particular interest to the management team were the challenges A. T. Kearney faced in trying to take advantage of the new relationship it shared with EDS, a leader in the global information services industry.

From a client perspective many new opportunities were created by the acquisition. Clients could take advantage of a much broader range of services. In essence, the new EDS/A. T. Kearney organization was striving to become a “one-stop shop,” capable of servicing every client requirement. However, many consultants were concerned about the ability of these two very different organizations, with different skill sets and cultures, to work together in blending their services into a broad, seamless continuum. Senior consultants wondered about the implications it would have to be made for these two companies to benefit fully from the acquisition. Brian prepared himself for what he expected would be a rather lively discussion around this very issue.

Sipping his coffee, Brian smiled as he reviewed the results of a recent A. T. Kearney survey of information technology practices and perceptions at some of the world’s largest corporations. Senior executives at Global 1000 companies were interviewed to explore their evolving attitudes toward the role of information technology in their core businesses. Information technology (IT) issues had indeed emerged on the “CEO Agenda.” One particular excerpt caught Brian’s attention: •“The results suggest a fundamental shift away from the days when information technology was viewed as one tactical item among others used to improve business productivity. No longer is IT just another tool the CEO might use to accomplish cost savings and operational ends. Today, information technology can help solve product problems, set new levels of service and create new distribution and communication channels. It has become sufficiently important to be included in the process of setting a company’s strategic objectives.” The study reached the following main conclusions:

• Technology has been integrated into business strategy. •• Technology investments will increase.
• Corporations are embracing the philosophy of restructuring and reengineering. •• Senior management is becoming technology-literate as, across all industries, major corporations increasingly view themselves as “technology-oriented companies.” •• Senior management expresses satisfaction with return on technology investment, even in the absence of precise measurements. These results were no surprise to Brian Harrison, who had played a key role in EDS’s acquisition of A. T. Kearney and the subsequent merger of the firm...
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