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BLOG:Why the Big 4 and Others Like Them Can't Help You

Why the Big 4 and Others Like Them Can't Help You

Nearly everyone knows someone who has been in a recovery program at one point or another. Most have heard the term ‘enabler’ and understand why those in recovery must stay away from the same old people, places and things that could potentially trigger a relapse. Recovery is also a prime opportunity to reinvent one’s self, to craft a new future, to make the changes necessary to engage with life in a more profitable and positive manner.

The same can be said of companies embarking on digital and agile transformation initiatives. But what continues to amaze us are the number of companies who go back to the Big 4 and others like them (the same old people, places and things) for assistance when those exact same companies have not addressed their own digital and agile challenges.

Your company is a digital company, whether you like it or not. Regardless of where you started - body-shop, tax and audit services, retail or beyond - the processes and approaches that served your business well in the past are now actually creating problems. These approaches are most likely costing you money and market share. We solve this problem. And we are uniquely able to solve this problem because we have grown up digital and agile, unlike many of the names you know.


The Big 4 and companies like them started their lives as something else, tax and audit services for example. They grew and attained success much like your own company. These service providers are trusted names and recognized brands - the companies ‘you don’t get fired for selecting’ because they are known globally and have a proven track record. A track record comprised of services such as tax and audit services. Last time I looked, tax and audit is far from a bastion of innovation and agility.

In order to capitalize on the wave of digital in business, the Big 4 and companies like them have spent the last few years acquiring the agencies born in digital in an attempt to embolden their brands and offerings. The list of companies acquired is long and continues to grow, but the end result of these acquisitions is almost uniformly the same - the dismemberment of these agencies and their offerings. Intended or not they are actually ‘boiling the vitamins out of the water’.

Different methods have been applied to ‘integrate’ these acquisitions, from keeping them as a separate unit to embedding teams from the acquisitions into other practices, to placing technology resources in IT and design resources in studios. The effect has been little more than disruptive rather than transformative. Yet many companies continue to believe the Big 4 and companies like them will help them achieve their digital and agile transformations when what they are really doing is enabling outdated views.


The Big 4 and companies like them are often organized around a partner model. They are not structured to effectively integrate these acquisitions because to do so requires their organizations to change, to become more digital and more agile. Without that evolution, they have simply bolted digital on to their business, not incorporated it into their DNA.

Their structure alone is one of the largest hurdles and creates a situation where the acquired agencies spend extreme effort attempting to sell ideas internally, to educate the partners and change their thinking. These partners are extremely comfortable with the revenue streams and margins associated with lower risk, proven offerings such as tax and audit engagements. Or engagements labeled strategic and innovative that are, in essence, ways to leverage their tax and audit experience to offer strategic advice. This advice and direction is often delivered in the form of large documents few read and implementation plans too complex to track.

This is precisely what they will enable in your company. Not true change and transformation, but more of the same. They enable the status quo with different names and through an outdated waterfall model because they themselves have not addressed their own organizational inertia. They enable the wrong behavior and support your old addictions because they have not overcome the addictions themselves.


I’m not implying there is nefarious intent here. Most of these service providers drink their own kool-aid and truly believe they are helping. Most enablers do. But the truth is they are struggling with the same exact problems you are - the only difference is they are trying to convince you they don’t have a problem, or worse yet, don’t recognize they have a problem and honestly believe they can deliver the changes your business needs.

The Big Four and others like them struggle with the same things you do:

  • Organizational structures that prohibit agility.
  • Business models that get in the way of digital and agile transformation.
  • Waterfall processes they continue to employ to produce agile outcomes.
  • Outdated and burdensome corporate processes and bureaucracy.
  • Financial needs that require them to use low cost resources in order to preserve margin.
  • Challenges related to acquiring agencies (or building teams internally) to increase their credibility and brand.
  • Lack of understanding across their own organization with regard to what ‘digital and agile transformation’ truly means.

The most successful digital and agile transformation clients we have worked with understand the easiest way to demonstrate the power of change to the organization is through actually doing it. In a structured, proven way with a team that has not only done this before but has grown up both digital and agile. By selecting a starting point and moving outward through the organization strategically, purposefully selecting areas where success can be achieved and then replicated with the right support from leadership operating within an established framework.

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Universal Mind was born digital and agile. We believe innovative solutions to complex business problems require mastery of multiple disciplines fostered in an agile culture. We believe true transformative initiatives require assistance from a service provider that has grown up in these practices; who is agile and digital to their core. Our experience strategy, experience design, technology, delivery and agile transformation practices work together to embody one unique experience from concept to deployment. We work with clients on their terms and in ways customized to their current state and tailored to achieve their desired state.

A truly agile culture results in an environment that attracts and retains the best and brightest and we are proof of that. When teams are made from the best consultants and practitioners in the industry, our clients can expect the best. With Universal Mind, you can be confident in realizing a seamless, meaningful solution - one that drives value for your business, your employees and your customers. A solution that delivers on the power of experience through digital and agile transformation. A solution that enables you to realize the benefits of your recovery; that supports your efforts because we know what they mean to you and your business; that delivers new people, places and things based on being what you are striving to be. So stop asking the same old people, places and things to deliver something new. They weren’t built that way, haven’t solved it for themselves and are mired in a legacy of business models and structures that drastically increase the risk of failure.

Embrace your recovery and stay away from the enablers. We can help.