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How Cognizant helped Servian to 'run its race'

How Cognizant helped Servian to 'run its race'

Servian's scale would have been impossible without the acquisition, partner Timothy Mannah says.

Timothy Mannah (Servian)

Timothy Mannah (Servian)

Credit: Christine Wong

Life under Cognizant has provided both change and stability to data analytics consultancy firm Servian 18 months after its acquisition, but the deal hasn’t solved all its woes.

In January last year, the US IT services provider announced it planned to snap up Servian to increase its worldwide expertise of data and artificial intelligence, digital engineering, cloud and internet of things (IoT).

This saw it bring over 500 technology and consulting professionals based primarily in Australia and New Zealand.

Now, a year-and-a-half after the buy, Servian partner Timothy Mannah said the transition has been “a very special experience”.

“Cognizant has allowed us to run our race,” he said to ARN. “They have continued to allow us to take to market what we're most notorious for, which is data analytics experts.

“I think they have taken on board a lot of the value that Servian brings to the table and look to improve and change some of their internal ways of working and thinking about data analytics in our region. And for that, I'm thrilled.

“I don't think there's a single delivery-based consultant within our company that can say a single thing has changed as a result of the acquisition. Now, if you told me that that was going to be the case when I first heard of the acquisition, I'll be honest, I don't think I'd have believed that.”

With Cognizant backing the firm, Mannah said Servian can achieve scale that would not have been possible prior to the acquisition.

“What it enables is to back larger projects and really drive that narrative of, 'Let's deliver the high value work and then just continue to support over a longer term.' In that sense, it's been a good marriage thus far," he added.

Skilling up

However, the post-acquisition process hasn't been perfect for Servian due to the ongoing skills shortage, Mannah explained. 

“Despite how wonderful a job Australia does punching above its weight, it feels as though not enough is being done by policymakers at the moment to enable this skill shortage to ease in some ways,” he said.

“This is a cutting-edge market, it's very competitive. We're a services company and one of the primary things that we need is to acquire talent.”

While Servian has stuck to the tried and truth methods of interviewing prospective new employees, what it has changed is its thinking towards learning and development, with Mannah claiming the business has had to “really double and triple down” on the concept.

As a result of the skills shortage, Servian developed a graduate program, combining structured learning with industry placements. While this helps the firm in the short-term, it is unable to address the larger issues at play in the long-term on its own.

“What worries me now is that ... it feels like we're in the back end of COVID now, and the world just wants to get back to normal, yet the skill shortage remains,” Mannah said. “I don't see how that changes at this point in time.”

The partner added he has noticed other service providers in the market taking similar approaches towards talent acquisition, but for real change to occur, Mannah added something needs to change at the legislative level.

“I'd like to see change from a legislation perspective there. Whether or not that happens, who knows?” he said.

“The investment in STEM is interesting, but I'll be bold as to say it's still mediocre. More needs to be done from a grassroots level to bring more people through technology and mathematics, some of the key areas that we rely on and broaden that scope of attraction to younger talent.

“Something has to change; either you spend more at grassroots level or you let more people in the country capable of doing the work and, at the moment, I think neither of those are happening sufficiently.”

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