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Accenture accentuates changing face of TV technology provision in multiscreen era

The takeover by the world’s largest consulting firm, Accenture, of most of Nokia Siemens Networks IPTV business heralds the arrival of a major new force in multiscreen TV.

Not since Cisco entered the pay TV arena on the back of IPTV almost a decade ago have we seen a major new type of player enter the broadcast technology arena. At that time, traditional video ecosystem companies, such as Harmonic and Arris, woke up to find themselves in competition not just with Cisco but also other big players coming in from the communications arena, notably Ericsson and Alcatel Siemens, as well as Nokia and Siemens.

The last two then joined forces to form Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), which, in 2011, was the world's fourth-largest telecoms equipment manufacturer by revenue, after Ericsson, Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent, in that order. But, NSN struggled to be profitable, and, after failing to make the hoped-for impact in IPTV, has sold off its most of its assets in this sector to raise much needed capital. Some of these are being sold to Belgium’s Belgacom, having been developed partly in cooperation with the Telco. But, the greatest interest has focused on the sale of IPTV and OTT related software and expertise to Accenture, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.

These technical and human assets will be merged with Accenture’s existing Video Solution, comprising software and consultancy services that help operators launch OTT services. This acquisition fleshes out Accenture with the critical IPTV and pay TV skills needed to become a fully fledged player in multiscreen TV deployment, rather than just a provider of consultancy. It now has ambitions to join Cisco, Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent as a one-stop shop for OTT platforms, also competing with the emerging groups of vendors offering pre-integrated multiscreen platforms. Of course, Accenture does not have all the pieces and will no doubt be seeking partnerships itself with established vendors in the field.

Its takeover of NSN’s IPTV assets has more than a trace of irony, since Accenture was originally hired to assist Nokia and Siemens with the formation of NSN. In fact, Accenture helped NSN develop the business case for the merger, which in the light of hindsight has turned out to be somewhat flawed. It will be interesting to see whether Accenture’s own business case for acquiring NSN’s IPTV assets turns out to be based on more solid foundations.