In the past, consulting firms' bread and butter has traditionally been large IT and business-transformation projects. Nowadays, project scopes increasingly require new skills, such as user experience, human-centered design, agile and more. Skill sets that have historically been offered by agencies. So, if the McKinseysAccenturesDeloittes, BCGs and PwCs of this world do not adopt or acquire these skills, “they will slowly see their core revenues eroded by others who do,” says Julie Langley, a partner at Results International. So, in order to stay relevant, the acquisition trend reflects the ongoing transformation of the business landscape as a whole, and provides a blueprint for how consultancies and agencies will do business moving forward. Industry watchers, such as Adweek, predict that this trend will only accelerate.

Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive, says that brands are now created by a series of "connected experiences the consumer has with a company". It is about creating a 'wow factor' across multiple channels, while solving the customers’ problem in a seamless way. It means proving a more holistic approach and requires a new level of connectivity between marketing, business and digital.

For Deloitte, integrating branding and content expertise with their core strategic offerings such as financial, technology services and data analytics makes the company a more valuable partner to current and prospective clients. “Now, you basically have this little package under one roof to help deliver on clients’ ambition" and take on all challenges in the marketplace, says Andy Main, head of Deloitte Digital.

Using technology to make customers feel special and build brand loyalty is at also the heart of IBM’s push into the ad-tech space. Along with its IT peers, such as Adobe and Oracle, IBM has stepped into the marketing arena in a major way by completing a number of major acquisitions in the field. “We recognize this space as an opportunity for applied creative thinking and design thinking to solve business problems,” says Matt Candy, VP and European leader of IBM iX.