Boutique Sydney consultancy fends off a dozen suitors before accepting EY takeover

Boutique Sydney consultancy fends off a dozen suitors before accepting EY takeover

Founder and CEO of Blackdot, Marty Nicholas. 

Punching above its weight for over two decades as a boutique challenger brand, Sydney-based business management firm Black Dot Consulting is ready to take on the more established players in the market after being acquired by EY, formerly known as Ernst & Young.

Founded in 2001 by Marty Nicholas, Blackdot provides consulting services to clients such as Coles (ASX: COL), Westpac (ASX: WBC), AstraZeneca, Optus and Telstra (ASX: TLS).

“We have been a cash by funding business for 21 years, and we've opened up in five global locations and enjoyed doubling the business size in the last 24 months, so we've been in a really exciting growth phase,” Blackdot CEO Marty Nicholas told Business News Australia.

“The adjacent digital tech and data capability are so fundamental to our value proposition that we could have continued to scale with more partnerships in more regions. But, you add operational complexity with multiple partners, and you also have more challenges trying to maintain a homogeneous client proposition and experience.

“We didn’t initiate this process; we received more than a dozen unsolicited offers over the last 12 months to acquire the business. We went through a process to narrow down those that were genuinely interested, and what was fascinating about EY was how complementary strategically this fit was.”

Before the acquisition, Blackdot partnered with Servian, Salesforce, Marketo and Veeva to complement its consulting services. Nicholas maintains that the business will remain platform-agnostic but will leverage EY’s ability to scale in different markets to offer its customers a greater value proposition.  

As part of the deal, Blackdot’s consultancy operations in Australia, the UK, Singapore and Canada will all transition to EY alongside 64 Blackdot staff. Nicholas will join the EY partnership in Sydney while managing director Mark Taylor will join EY's UK operations.

During the crucial early stages of assimilation, Nicholas is prioritising the smooth transition of his staff and Blackdot's customers to EY - aware of the need for stability and continuity amidst such change.

Blackdot will bring a range of expertise and capabilities to EY, including platform optimisations where customers are looking to extract more value from investments that have been quite substantial since COVID. Nicholas believes it feels like the end of one great chapter and the beginning of another.

“Organisations are often struggling to get the people and business process change properly wrapped around the enabling tech and data, or to bring the customer perspective more outside-in to how they're deploying and operationalising the capability that a tech and data platform enables,” he explains.

“In addition to that, there's always channel and platform innovations, so the modernisation or implementation of net new capabilities for enterprise clients is something we're also very focused on.

“Some enterprises choose to do that inside-out, which is more technology platform-forward, and applying that to certain customers or segments. Some of them choose to do that more outside-in, so based on what we understand customers truly value. The main customer-facing transformational work falls into one of those two buckets, the outside-in customer-driven view or the inside-out platform-driven view.”

EY says the acquisition will improve its ability to service clients and implement customer-centric growth strategies, including design, user experience, digitisation, omni-channel, go-to-market and commercialisation. 

“We are very excited to have the team from Blackdot join EY. The customer transformation capability that they bring complements our world-class EY Port Jackson Partners strategy team, bringing deep growth, omni-channel, sales and marketing skills and linking perfectly with our customer research, experience, digital and data analytics capabilities,” EY regional consulting managing partner, Oceania, Justin Greig said.

“As a result, EY Australia now offers clients a market-leading set of customer and growth services spanning innovation through to successful commercial execution – and further strengthens EY transformation leadership momentum.”

EY Australia’s revenue grew by 21 per cent to $2.31 billion in 2021 as the practice welcomed 101 new partners. The risk advisory and actuarial services consulting division grew by 15 per cent as clients demanded more large-scale technology-enabled business transformation and digital, data and analytics services.

“Blackdot are a great fit for EY. We share an ambition of delivering long-term value for our clients by helping them solve complex challenges, and everything we do has people at the centre,” EY regional managing partner and CEO, Oceania, David Larocca said.

“They are a great addition to our already strong customer team, and we look forward to working with them, both here in Australia and around the world.”

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