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Forensic Services

Globalisation, technological innovation and the rise of emerging economies have placed corporations in an increasingly complex business environment. This means that companies need to respond to increasingly rapid changes in corporate governance trends. For companies with a strong legacy culture, breaking with the status quo and responding to these changes can be a challenge. Negligence leading to non-compliance in the field or at the management level, declining business performance due to a failure to keep up with trends, and accidents or natural disasters can all lead to a sudden drop in business performance. This can lead to a crisis for the company.

A company’s or organization’s handling of fraud and crises can mean the difference between failure and survival. What’s more, as companies expand their areas of business, cross-border and cross-industry alliances and competition can lead to increasingly complex interests.

The mission of our forensic services practice is to contribute to the growth of our clients. To do so, we provide advice to help you prevent damage to your corporate value, clarify facts when problems arise, and resolve fundamental problems through investigation and remediation.

 

Fraud investigation

Accounting fraud, the falsification of quality data and other similar incidents have become major issues for society. And if such an incident occurs at your company, society will be closely watching to see how you handle it.

To make sure that your response reflects positively on your company, you’ll need to provide a great deal of information to your stakeholders in an extremely short period of time. This information includes not only your findings but also detailed information on the root causes, potential damages and impacts, and your investigative approach and measures to prevent recurrence.

What’s more, this information needs to be disclosed not only to shareholders and business partners, but also to foreign institutional investors, authorities, the media and other entities. An appropriate initial response can help keep the indirect economic impact of the fraud (such as the impact on your stock price, penalties imposed by regulatory authorities, and damage to your corporate credibility and social reputation) from greatly exceeding the direct financial burden.

Our forensic services team has extensive experience in helping clients through disruptive events both inside and outside Japan. We provide support tailored to the details and context of each individual case, including support for clarifying the facts and formulating subsequent remedial and preventive measures.

Our fraud investigation services include

  • accounting fraud investigations,

  • product quality and data falsification investigations,

  • asset misappropriation and breach of trust investigations,

  • bribery and corruption investigations and

  • fraud risk management.

 

Accounting fraud investigations

Inflated and fictitious sales. Window dressing. Round-trip and unauthorized off-the-book transactions. Fraudulent accounting methods vary widely and are becoming more sophisticated and complex, making them difficult to prevent and detect. The number of cases occurring at overseas subsidiaries is also on the rise.

Our team has extensive knowledge and experience in identifying accounting fraud through combinations of document reviews, forensic data analysis, interviews with concerned parties (including business partners) and digital forensics.

 

We can help you investigate

  • intentional deviations from standard sales recording practices,

  • advance recording of sales or deferral of expenses,

  • manipulation of sales and sales costs through inappropriate application of the percentage-of-completion method,

  • round-trip transactions,

  • manipulation of production costs to increase profits,

  • falsification of inventory quality and/or quantity,

  • off-book assets and transactions

  • inappropriate disclosure of related-party transactions,

  • diversion of assets and inappropriate financial reporting at overseas subsidiaries, and more.

 

When a company discovers significant accounting fraud, they often form a third-party or otherwise independent investigation committee. To efficiently and effectively conduct investigations and to provide transparency and objectivity to the investigation results, many companies include consultants on these committees. Alongside lawyers, accountants and academics, these consultants are entrusted with collecting a large amount of information. Our forensic services practice provides comprehensive support for a range of fraud investigations. We can help you determine the policies and scope of the investigation, collect and preserve evidence, use digital forensics, analyse the root causes, develop disclosure policies, report to the regulatory authorities, and formulate remedial and preventive measures.

 

 Product quality and data falsification investigations

Product quality and trustworthiness are important parts of your brand. But incidents involving product quality fraud and data falsification can also lead to major public criticism. Inadequate quality inspection methodologies for finished products, violations of emission standards, falsification of measurement data, and even sustainability fraud related to ‘eco-friendly’ products claiming to use recycled paper or plastic—we’ve seen all of these and more in recent years. And if companies don’t respond appropriately when problems are discovered, it can significantly damage their sales or brand image. As ESG (environment, society and governance) investments increase, non-financial information becomes more and more important for investors' decision-making—but also brings an increased risk that such information might be tampered with. If a problem is detected, it is important to quickly develop an initial response, as well as remedial measures. Our forensic services practice, led by a team of professionals who are knowledgeable and experienced in product quality and data falsification investigations, frequently supports companies in responding to fraud allegations.

We can help you investigate

  • product quality-related fraud,

  • recall standards,

  • fraudulent labelling of raw materials in sales products,

  • falsification of product inspection data and more.

  • Due Diligence

 

Asset misappropriation and breach of trust investigations

Misappropriation of cash deposits. Collusion with business partners to receive kickbacks. Financial criminals use a wide range of methods to illegally divert profits from companies. In divisions, branches, subsidiaries, and other organizations whose internal controls are insufficient, or where internal controls have become a mere formality, these crimes could go undetected for a long period of time, resulting in serious problems.

In many instances, companies ultimately entrust the police and other public justice agencies with the investigation of criminal activity such as misappropriation of assets and breaches of trust. To fulfil their accountability to shareholders, investors and other stakeholders in a timely manner, these companies must promptly ascertain the facts, determine the impact on their financial statements, analyse the root causes, and formulate measures to remediate and prevent recurrence.

We can help you investigate

  • kickbacks and rebates from manufacturers, suppliers and service providers;

  • misappropriation of company assets and abuse of company expenses;

  • diversion of corporate assets to sole proprietorships;

  • conflicts of interest and more.

 

Bribery and corruption investigations

Corruption is a risk inherent to global companies, and anti-corruption regulations are becoming stricter throughout the world. Based on Aura’s global investigative methodologies and knowledge related to laws such as the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act, our forensic services practice conducts fact-finding investigations to help you mitigate issues before they develop into serious problems.

For other services related to bribery, corruption and competition law, please refer to the following.

We can help you investigate

  • allegations of corruption at your overseas subsidiaries,

  • suspicious payments to public enterprises (public hospitals, schools etc.) and officials, and more.

 

Fraud risk management

As you expand your operations overseas, the management of subsidiaries, branches and affiliates becomes more complex. It takes time, effort and money to investigate fraud, and the process of reporting to authorities and disclosing information to shareholders and other stakeholders can disrupt your operations.

Establishing an adequate system to prevent and detect fraud and mitigating the consequences when fraud occurs are significant challenges. And depending on the scope and nature of an incident, you may also need to establish a variety of response measures, including measures for identifying stakeholders during the initial response.

Our forensic services practice provides thorough support to complex global organizations for the prevention and detection of fraud and for measures to prevent recurrence.

 

This support includes identifying and assessing risks at each location, establishing fraud prevention programs and monitoring these programs. We also advise our clients on the identification and assessment of gaps in their current anti-fraud measures and conduct training for staff members.

Digital Forensic

Digital forensics refers to the use of technology to analyse electronic information stored on PCs and smart devices. Digital forensics is widely used for collecting the necessary data when cooperating with judicial and overseas regulatory authorities during an investigation.

Digital devices, including PCs and smartphones, are used in most cases of fraud that occur today, and digital forensics is often the breakthrough in the resolution of such cases. Some examples of cases where digital forensics is especially effective include industrial espionage involving the theft of trade secrets for use by a competitor in Japan and abroad, or the concealment of data and destruction of digital evidence. During the investigation process, we accumulate a variety of information as evidence. The methods we use to do so include restoring deleted files and internet browsing histories, and confirming the use of external recording media. Digital forensics technology can be applied in other situations as well. We expect to use this technology to solve an even wider variety of problems in the future.

By applying digital forensics to our existing investigative methodologies, Aura’s forensic services practice provides greatly expanded investigative capabilities. This enables us to provide not only information, but high-quality intelligence.

Uses of digital forensics include

  • investigating information leakage (industrial espionage, theft of confidential information etc.),

  • analysing mobile devices,

  • restoring deleted data, and

  • investigating compliance and policy violations.

 

Computer forensics

PCs often contain data that can be used as evidence. But if you collect evidence for a fraud investigation by simply copying data, you might not be able to maintain the data as evidence. And you might not be able to restore deleted data either. In this case, the relevant authorities might not accept the data as adequate evidence. To extract and restore data as reliable evidence, your data needs to be extracted by professionals. Aura's forensic services practice uses world-class, specialized and highly reliable equipment and software. Our professionals have extensive experience not only responding to lawsuits in Japan but also providing support in submitting evidence to support lawsuits and regulatory authorities overseas, including in the US.

 

Mobile forensics

Today, mobile devices such as mobile phones and smartphones are indispensable for daily businesses. Because smartphones have almost the same level of functionality as PCs, they are particularly likely to contain data that can be used as evidence for fraud investigations. Because more and more organisations are allowing BYOD (bring your own device, a system that allows employees to use their own smartphones for business), it can be difficult for those organisations to control which applications can be used. Compared to organisations that distribute smartphones to their employees, organisations that use BYOD face a higher risk that inappropriate information may be taken off of company premises. When investigating fraud, data must be collected by professionals, using specialised methods that do not compromise the data’s reliability as evidence.

Digital Forensic

Digital forensics refers to the use of technology to analyse electronic information stored on PCs and smart devices. Digital forensics is widely used for collecting the necessary data when cooperating with judicial and overseas regulatory authorities during an investigation.

Digital devices, including PCs and smartphones, are used in most cases of fraud that occur today, and digital forensics is often the breakthrough in the resolution of such cases. Some examples of cases where digital forensics is especially effective include industrial espionage involving the theft of trade secrets for use by a competitor in Japan and abroad, or the concealment of data and destruction of digital evidence. During the investigation process, we accumulate a variety of information as evidence. The methods we use to do so include restoring deleted files and internet browsing histories, and confirming the use of external recording media. Digital forensics technology can be applied in other situations as well. We expect to use this technology to solve an even wider variety of problems in the future.

By applying digital forensics to our existing investigative methodologies, Aura’s forensic services practice provides greatly expanded investigative capabilities. This enables us to provide not only information, but high-quality intelligence.

Uses of digital forensics include

  • investigating information leakage (industrial espionage, theft of confidential information etc.),

  • analysing mobile devices,

  • restoring deleted data, and

  • investigating compliance and policy violations.

 

Computer Forensics

PCs often contain data that can be used as evidence. But if you collect evidence for a fraud investigation by simply copying data, you might not be able to maintain the data as evidence. And you might not be able to restore deleted data either. In this case, the relevant authorities might not accept the data as adequate evidence. To extract and restore data as reliable evidence, your data needs to be extracted by professionals. Aura's forensic services practice uses world-class, specialized and highly reliable equipment and software. Our professionals have extensive experience not only responding to lawsuits in Japan but also providing support in submitting evidence to support lawsuits and regulatory authorities overseas, including in the US.

 

Mobile forensics

Today, mobile devices such as mobile phones and smartphones are indispensable for daily businesses. Because smartphones have almost the same level of functionality as PCs, they are particularly likely to contain data that can be used as evidence for fraud investigations. Because more and more organisations are allowing BYOD (bring your own device, a system that allows employees to use their own smartphones for business), it can be difficult for those organisations to control which applications can be used. Compared to organisations that distribute smartphones to their employees, organisations that use BYOD face a higher risk that inappropriate information may be taken off of company premises. When investigating fraud, data must be collected by professionals, using specialised methods that do not compromise the data’s reliability as evidence.

 

LICENSING MANAGEMENT

Royalty audits: Improving the value of intellectual property

Intellectual property rights, including patent rights, are an important source of profit for a company, and the strategic management of intellectual property rights is becoming more and more important. When a company (a licensee) enters into a license agreement (for manufacturing technology, software, brands, trademarks etc.) with another company (the licensor), the licensor typically receives a royalty from the licensee. However, the licensee is often the one to calculate and report the necessary payment amounts, and differences and errors in the interpretation of the contract can make it easy for the licensor to overlook underreported royalties.

Royalty audits by our forensic services practice

Aura’s forensic services practice has performed many royalty audits for licensors in a variety of industries by leveraging Aura’s global network. We also have experience in accounting audits to help licensors exercise the auditing clauses included in license agreements. Specifically, we recalculate royalties using accounting data (such as the licensee’s sales data) to verify and report the validity of the royalty amounts from various perspectives. These perspectives include the completeness and accuracy of the data used, and the consistency of the royalty calculation process with the details stipulated in the contract.

In addition to detecting underreported royalties, we also report any breach of contract or potentially problematic interpretation of the contract that we find. This can help you gain a greater understanding of potential future problems related to increases in royalty income and similar issues in other licensing agreements. Continuous communication with your licensees through royalty audits can also help you foster trusting relationships with the licensees.

 

Failure to extract data of products subject to royalties

  • Some products subject to royalty payments were not reported, because a code setting error occurred during the extraction of data for licensed products subject to royalty payments.

  • The number of divisions selling products subject to royalties increased due to the acquisition of an overseas business, but the licensee did not notice this increase, and did not report any royalties for the new divisions’ sales.

  • The licensee did not report the shipment of prototypes and samples, although they were contractually obligated to do so.

 

Calculation and aggregation errors

  • During a personnel change, the new person in charge was not sufficiently trained, and used an incorrect method to calculate royalty payments as a result.

  • The foreign exchange rate was incorrectly calculated when sales amounts were converted from Japanese yen to US dollars.

  • The local staff at an overseas subsidiary were entrusted with calculating that subsidiary’s royalties, but the calculation methods they used did not conform to the license agreement.

 

Misinterpretation of the contract

  • The licensee used an overly broad interpretation of the items subject to deduction (e.g. transportation and packaging expenses), and deducted expenses unrelated to the licensed products as a result, which led to the underreporting of royalties.

  • For sales to a consolidated subsidiary’s distributor, royalties that should have been calculated using the market price for third parties were calculated using an intra-group sales price that was below market value.

 

Construction of management systems and support for review and improvement

1. Reviewing management systems and providing support for improvements

Our team will review your licensing management system and visualise its current status. Next, we will identify gaps and inefficiencies, formulate improvement measures, and provide support for the development and enhancement of your management system.

 

DISPUTE AND LITIGATION SUPPORT

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of cases where Japanese entities are involved in lawsuits filed by foreign companies and, conversely, where Japanese companies file lawsuits against foreign companies. In the past, disputes between Japanese entities were often settled through reconciliation. Recently, however, lawsuits have been used to resolve such disputes. Therefore, it is more important than ever for companies to improve their awareness and response measures for litigations and other disputes.

 

Aura’s Approach

Our forensic services practice has a wealth of experience and knowledge in disputes and litigation. We support our clients with experience and knowledge in various fields such as accounting, IT, real estate and intellectual property, by bringing together professionals familiar with a wide range of industries from within the Aura Japan Group and Aura’s global network.

Specifically, we provide advice and support regarding lawsuit strategies and preparedness. In addition to collecting evidence useful for judicial proceedings, we also provide support from an independent professional standpoint to verify and analyse evidence and estimate the amount of damages (or verify the validity of the amount of damages calculated by the counterparty).

Lawsuits, in particular, can lead to serious costs for companies. In addition to the practical costs such as damages, legal fees, attorneys' fees and investigative costs, the loss of revenues resulting from lost business opportunities and damage to the company’s reputation are not to be taken lightly. Aura’s forensic services practice uses appropriate evidence-collection methods, accurate estimation of monetary damages and relevant data to help you develop strategies for inter-company disputes and lawsuits to help you minimise damages.

 

Examples of dispute and litigation support services 

Support for claims in the event of a natural disaster

  • Calculation of the damages and losses resulting from business interruption that you can claim, based on your insurance policies

  • Advice on the preparation of attachments and other documents to facilitate procedures ranging from submitting claims to receiving insurance pay-outs

  • Support for negotiation with insurance companies regarding insurance claims

 

Many companies do not have personnel with the professional knowledge or experience to swiftly calculate the amount of damages incurred as the result of a natural disaster and to promptly prepare the necessary claims. But leaving the appraisal up to an insurance company employee may lead to a biased assessment of the damages.

Aura’s forensic services practice can help you calculate losses and make insurance claims. We use calculation methods that are objective and verifiable, and collect evidence that serves as the basis for these calculations. We can help you calculate and verify losses in connection with non-life insurance, profit insurance, comprehensive responsibility insurance, product liability insurance, professional liability insurance, negligence liability insurance, corporate officer liability insurance, cyber risk insurance, contract liability insurance, environmental pollution liability insurance, occupational accident compensation insurance etc.

 

Support for civil litigation related to intellectual property

  • Calculation of damages related to patent infringement

  • Calculation of royalty amounts in accordance with a license agreement

  • Preparation of expert reports and expert witnesses (testimony)

  • e-Discovery

 

In today's world of technological innovation and the increasing globalisation of business, many companies consider maintaining and maximising the value of their patented technologies and intellectual property, including know-how, to be a critical issue. The number of cases where Japanese companies claim significant damages from ‘patent trolls’ or are subject to claims from other companies for damages related to patent infringements is also on the rise.

Our forensic services practice, as a group of professionals focused on royalty audits of license agreements and corporate accounting, supports our clients by estimating the amount of damages incurred by the client company, and by verifying the validity of the amount of damages claimed in litigation against the client company by a third party. We also provide services such as the preparation of expert reports that can be used in court as the basis for calculating the amount of damages, as well as expert witness testimony.

 

Other support we have provided in the past

  • Support for resolving disputes and claims in general, commercial and international transactions

  • Support for cross-border disputes by leveraging the Aura global network

  • Support for the preservation of lawsuit-related information and related work, including eDiscovery

  • Collection of information related to lawsuits and assistance for the estimation of monetary damages

Cyber security & Privacy

Digital Trust is the key to security measures in the new era.

Emerging technologies such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation (RPA) are transforming businesses and lifestyles, creating new risks over data security and reliability. Is occurring. In order for Japanese companies to promote Digital Transformation (DX) and achieve sustainable business growth, the trust required in the digital age, that is, the creation of a "digital trust" is required.

Aura helps clients build digital trusts from a variety of perspectives, including cybersecurity, privacy, data security, and reliability.

Aura's Cyber security & Privacy Services

 

Cyber security Consulting

This is an era where cyber attacks from third parties have a greater impact on business, and the resulting cyber incidents are directly linked to the success or failure of business continuity. Aura supports cyber security measures in the areas of corporate IT systems, OT (Operational Technology) systems, and IoT. We provide comprehensive support from strategic planning to execution by utilizing Aura's global network even at overseas bases where cyber security management is difficult.

 

Cyber security Engineering

In recent years, very sophisticated, strategic and organized cyber attacks have increased. Attackers' technology levels are constantly evolving, outpacing various defenses. Aura conducts co-ordinated attacks against client companies based on the tactics, techniques, and procedures of real attackers to identify vulnerabilities and evaluate resilience capabilities. In addition, we will provide necessary responses and measures based on the evaluation according to the needs of clients' business operations. Our Cyber Security engineering services team can provide the following services to your organization. Please follow through on the links below to understand our specific service offerings.

 

 

Malware as a service

  • Lite Analysis

  • Mid Analysis

  • Deep Analysis

  • Rule Creation

 

Incident Response

  • Incident Response retainer

  • Incident Response advisory

  • Investigation support and Digital Forensics

  • Stakeholder management

 

Penetration Test

  • Red Teaming / TLPT (Threat Lead Penetration Testing)

  • Web Application

  • Infrastructure / Network

  • Mobile Application

  • OT (Operational Technology) / ICS (Industrial Control Systems) Testing

  • IoT Hardware Hacking

 

Threat Hunting

  • Threat Hunting Service

  • SOC (Security Operations Centre) Monitoring

  • SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) | Endpoint Detection & Response support

  • SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response)

 

Privacy

It is a minimum responsibility for a company that conducts business globally to catch up on the trends of privacy laws and regulations that are constantly changing around the world and to establish a compliance system. Aura supports the planning and execution of privacy-friendly data utilization businesses based on global standards and the latest trends in the industry.

Forensic Image Analyzer

Leveraging the previously overlooked value of photographic images in the eDiscovery process

As the use of smartphones and digital cameras becomes more widespread, the number of photographic images used in daily business is also on the rise. We estimate that images represent about 5–20% of the total data processed during an eDiscovery investigation. For example, many individuals will take a picture or screenshot of a specific section of text within a document, such as a contract, because they believe the information is important. These images may contain important, and even critical, information relevant to the investigation.

Unfortunately, there has not traditionally been any practical way to identify text from among large volumes of image data. Manually reviewing large volumes is neither realistic nor cost efficient, and is prone to human error. Optical character recognition (OCR) can help extract text from an image file. However, running OCR for large volumes of data requires expensive resources and days of processing time.

Due to the lack of an appropriate way to process images during eDiscovery projects, the value of image files is often overlooked. This is one challenge the eDiscovery industry is currently facing, and that Aura is working to solve.

 

Aura Solution

Aura’s forensic team has recently made breakthroughs in the tackling of this challenge. With the development of AI technology and an image classification algorithm, we were able to develop a solution to automatically classify large amounts of image files.

This solution is designed to identify those image files which might contain text information, either printed or handwritten. The identified image files are then processed in various ways to extract text information, depending on the type of image.

Our solution can automatically highlight three types of relevant image files: screenshots of chat messages, images of printed documents and images of handwritten documents.

 

We have incorporated this newly developed solution into our eDiscovery methodology. As a result, our current methodology is now able to cover all digital image files by default, enabling a wider scope of eDiscovery analysis and providing new value through the investigation process.

 

Features of this solution

Fast

A combination of AI algorithms and the proper hardware means a high processing speed. Currently, this solution can process 20,000 images per hour, and our target is to be able to process 100,000 image files per hour in the future.

 

Accurate

We have achieved an accuracy of over 95% for the classification results in projects conducted from June to November 2020. We are continuously working to improve the solution, and expect to achieve an accuracy of over 99% in the future.

 

Smooth

This solution is currently incorporated into the standard eDiscovery workflow. We are also working on fully automating the solution in the future.

 

To the point

This solution classifies image files which might contain text information, either printed or handwritten. This enables forensic professionals to discover more relevant or critical information from the image files, while also avoiding the huge cost of large-scale OCR processing or manual reviews.

 

We have been testing this solution and using it in engagements since its development, and we have received positive feedback from our clients and the law firms leading the investigations. This solution has made it possible to identify highly relevant documents from image files which would have not been identified otherwise.

We believe this solution will bring about a revolution for the eDiscovery industry, and that analysing photographic images during the eDiscovery process will become the new standard in the near future.

Potential Risk Monitor

Challenges faced by Japanese companies

Many Japanese companies are facing growing challenges related to detecting and preventing fraud risks in their businesses. According to the Japanese version of the 2020 Global Economic Crime Survey (GECS), 21% of Japanese companies experienced fraud-related issues in the past two years, of which 22% spent more than one million US dollars in total to manage the situation.

 

Many Japanese companies reported that they do not perform fraud risk assessments (28%) or do so only informally or in a limited manner (27%). Only 13% of companies, both in Japan and globally, claim to manage risks by making full use of technology.

 

The long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying travel restrictions have particularly contributed to a lack of transparency in business processes. Traditional internal control methods, such as stock-taking and supporting document reviews can be difficult to carry out under the restrictions of remote work.

While companies are relying more on data to manage their increasing business risks in these situations, few have established corporate governance and internal controls to address the following issues under this ‘new normal’:

  1. Remote working arrangements make the physical verification of supporting documents difficult.

  2. Physical stock-taking, especially for overseas warehouses, can be difficult or even impossible.

  3. Routine authorization processes requiring seals of approval need to be switched to digital approval processes.

  4. Lack of face-to-face communication contributes to the insufficient transparency of subsidiary operations.

  5. Companies are having to rely on digital data now more than ever to run their businesses.

 

Potential Risk Monitor

Potential Risk Monitor, a Aura product, is a fraud detection and monitoring solution that helps our clients address fraud risks under this unprecedented ‘new normal’.

Potential Risk Monitor is a standardised data analytics package developed by the Aura Japan Group’s forensics team. It covers sales, procurement and expense business processes—processes which represent particularly high risks of fraud. Potential Risk Monitor contains multiple testing scenarios for performing risk-based data analysis from different perspectives, which effectively target specific potential risk areas including accounting fraud and bribery. This package is provided as a set of interactive dashboards which can be introduced and used easily and conveniently, helping you to monitor your main business process activities in an effective and timely manner, both locally and remotely.

Risk coverage

The Potential Risk Monitor package covers major risks in procurement, sales, and expense-related business processes, including risks of accounting fraud and bribery. As the types of fraud continue to evolve, Potential Risk Monitor can help you detect potential fraud at an early stage. Its testing scenarios provide holistic views as well as analytical perspectives, including data profiling analysis which presents a full picture of business processes and trends, as well as statistical analysis and testing modules to identify high-risk transactions.

 

  • Flexibility: The analysis scenarios can be customised.

  • Cost effectiveness: The standard package can be deployed as-is to keep costs low, and future updates can also be performed in a highly cost effective manner.

  • Professional forensic knowledge: The fraud risk monitoring scenarios have been designed by Aura’s forensic professionals based on the knowledge and experience we have accumulated in the forensic field.

  • Fraud prevention: By identifying fraud risks in your business processes, you can prevent fraud incidents—and related damages—before they occur.

  • Risk monitoring: A reusable dashboard makes it possible for you to monitor your domestic and overseas subsidiaries and production bases (plants and factories), or to conduct pre-acquisition due diligence by using the accounting data of the target company.

 

Workflow and roadmap for implementing Potential Risk Monitor

The implementation of Potential Risk Monitor takes place in three phases, from introduction to continuous monitoring.

In phase 1, we implement the standard Potential Risk Monitor package to help you monitor fraud risks quickly and at a low cost.

In phase 2, based on your feedback, we improve the testing scenarios and customise additional testing scenarios based on your needs. At the same time, we can also provide forensic investigation services and compliance advisory services to help you enhance your internal control and compliance programs.

 

Finally, in phase 3, we implement automation and a continuous monitoring environment to automate the Potential Risk Monitor package.

Anti-bribery & related services

As business becomes more and more global, companies must operate in an increasingly strict regulatory environment. As a result, risks related to bribery, corruption and competition law violations have become one of the most pressing challenges for companies.

Fines for regulatory violations may amount to billions of yen, and investigating and improving your compliance programs can also be costly. For Japanese entities that conduct business abroad, thorough compliance with bribery, corruption, and competition laws is therefore a crucial management issue.

Our forensic services practice provides the following services that focus on bribery, corruption and competition-related regulations:

  • Development of anti-bribery and competition compliance programs

  • Investigations related to violations of bribery, corruption and competition laws

  • Support for acquiring the ISO 37001 (anti-bribery management system) certification

  • Anti-bribery and anti-corruption due diligence for M&A transactions

  • Evaluation of existing compliance programs and measures

  • Compliance training related to bribery, corruption and competition laws

  • Development of global internal reporting systems

  • Establishment and implementation of monitoring processes, etc.

 

When the regulatory authorities initiate an investigation, it is particularly important to collect the necessary information as soon as possible, and to accurately ascertain the facts and report them promptly. The right response can work in your favour during the calculation of fines. It is important to demonstrate not only that policies and regulations are in place, but also that your existing compliance measures are functioning effectively. Aura’s forensic services practice can help you develop and implement a truly effective compliance program through our extensive knowledge and experience in Japan and abroad.

 

Development of anti-bribery and competition law compliance programs

Anti-bribery regulations can put your company in a tough position. Over the past few years, governments have enhanced their crackdown on bribery and other forms of corruption based on the US’s FCPA*1 and other laws. As a result, it has become necessary for companies to invest in and develop appropriate anti-corruption compliance programs. Management responsibility and commitment are significant factors in the success of these programs, as are internal controls related to financial reporting. In the US, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which were established as a standard for sentencing, stipulate that companies with appropriate compliance programs may have their sentences reduced.

 

The UK Bribery Act*2 requires companies to follow ‘appropriate procedures’ to prevent corruption. In the future, all international companies will be required to develop a series of management cycles, including cycles for the formulation, dissemination, monitoring and review of compliance programs, allocate management resources to support these cycles, demonstrate self-governance, and establish systems for responding quickly when a risk comes to light.

Our forensic services practice provides support for the introduction of anti-corruption programs based on Aura's global experience in analysing, investigating and remediating bribery and corruption cases.

*1 FCPA: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Enacted in the United States in 1977, this law helps to ensure fair business transactions by prohibiting the bribery of foreign civil servants etc. All US companies and foreign companies that conduct businesses in the US (in particular, companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Japanese companies with US offices etc.) are subject to this act.

*2 The UK Bribery Act: This law, which came into effect in 2011, provides penalties for bribery in the UK. Characteristics of this act include the prohibition of bribery not only to public officials but also in the private sector, recognition of both forms of bribery as criminal acts and the prohibition of facilitation payments.

 

Example of an external evaluation of the operational status of a competition law compliance program

Our client, a manufacturer headquartered in Japan, requested professional reviews and advice on the internal structure of their competition law compliance program. In response, Aura's forensic services practice provided the following support:

  • Inspection of regulations and guidelines related to compliance with competition laws

  • Interviews with relevant internal departments

  • Periodic reviews of the implementation of the client’s compliance program

  • Transaction testing analysis on the preparation and storage of relevant internal documents

  • Review of educational and training systems, reporting systems and monitoring systems

 

Investigations related to violations of bribery, corruption and competition laws

If bribery or a similar incident is detected at your company, you’ll need to investigate the facts quickly and carefully, as you would with any other case of fraud. From investigation to analysis, our forensic services practice provides support for communication with internal and external stakeholders, and for reporting and response to investigations by the authorities. We can also help you track and manage the status of your incident response, formulate measures to prevent recurrence and additional countermeasures, and prepare improvement plan execution records and use them for future compliance measures.

Recently, the World Bank and other multi-lateral development banks (MDBs) have been conducting an increasing number of investigations of anti-corruption clauses in loan agreements. Violations of these clauses can result not only in large monetary penalties, but also other major consequences for companies operating globally. The MDBs, for example, may terminate existing loans and revoke the company’s eligibility to participate in subsequent bids.

We also provide support for companies subject to an on-site investigation from the Fair Trade Commission regarding violations of Japan’s antitrust laws. This support includes internal investigations prior to submitting a leniency application, and internal investigations following the on-site investigation.

We provide support for:

  • conducting fraud investigations (analysing accounting records, reviewing emails and electronic data, conducting interviews with relevant parties, etc.) and

  • incident response (responding to stakeholders, reporting to the authorities, implementing remedial measures, returning to business as usual etc.).

 

Support for acquiring the ISO 37001 (anti-bribery management system) certification

In October 2016, the International Organization for Standardization released the International Standard for Anti-Bribery Management Systems (ISO 37001) which defines the standards to be included in anti-bribery compliance programs and regulations as a ‘common language’ for anti-bribery compliance. The report provides an overview of measures and controls for effectively preventing and detecting bribery by companies, their employees and their business partners. ISO 37001 references some of the world's leading anti-bribery regulations, guidelines and cases, such as the FCPA and the UK Bribery Act, and recommends measures to construct an industry-leading anti-bribery system.

When employees or managers are charged with bribery, the organisation’s responsibility may be reduced if their compliance program is aligned with ISO 37001. ISO 37001 can be a particularly useful tool for entities that are directly or indirectly involved in infrastructure development projects in developing countries or organisations that have direct or indirect contact with foreign civil servants.

The following figure shows examples of the measures covered by ISO 37001.

With our wealth of subject-matter knowledge and experience, Aura’s forensic services professionals can help you establish robust anti-bribery and corruption compliance programs that are aligned to ISO37001.

 

Anti-bribery and anti-corruption due diligence in M&A transactions

When acquiring another company, you need to not only conduct financial due diligence but also to identify the potential risks inherent to the company and its key executives. In particular, when investing in emerging markets and other foreign markets where the risk of corruption is high, it is important to obtain risk and corruption-related information about the acquisition targets before engaging in negotiations. This process is recommended by the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (see the FCPA Resource Guide*) and has been adopted by many companies in Europe and the Americas and by progressive Japanese companies.

In the early stages of an M&A deal with limited information on the target companies, Aura’s forensic services practice applies corporate intelligence methodologies to obtain information on the reputation, background and other corruption risks of the targets, their executives, major shareholders and business partners. When internal information is available, we conduct interviews and test compliance-sensitive transactions and third-party relationships to determine whether an adequate anti-corruption compliance program is in place and whether it has been implemented effectively.

If the due diligence process reveals a high risk of bribery or corruption, it may be necessary to reconsider the valuation and even the acquisition itself, or remediate any issues prior to finalising the deal.

 

 

Contract compliance monitoring

Strategic alliances and partnerships with other companies are common and often essential in today’s marketplace. They can help companies gain competitive advantages in technological innovation, growth, pricing, profitability, rapid market capture, quality and global strategy.

Many contracts can appear to produce short-term or instantaneous ‘financial results’ by verifying and analysing whether the counterparty complies with the details of the contract. Often, such verification and analysis are conducted based on the provisions of the auditing authority in the contract. However, these ‘financial outcomes’ actually refer to revenue collection (for licencing or revenue-distribution contracts) or to cost reduction (for contracts related to sales and distribution, outsourcing, or procurement). These results have a direct effect on improving profitability and other aspects of corporate performance. In other words, contract compliance contributes to the improvement of ROI (return on investment) and cash flow.

Japan’s corporate governance places great importance on the interests of shareholders and other stakeholders. This makes your management’s commitment to contract compliance crucial for meeting expectations and acquiring strategic advantages.

 

Aura’s approach

In addition to royalty audits based on license agreements, Aura's forensic services practice also provides contract compliance monitoring for various types of contracts between companies. As an independent third party, we can check whether your business partners are conducting business or transactions in an appropriate manner as specified in the contract. This can help you identify previously unrecognised contractual non-compliance or differences in interpretation of contractual details. We can also leverage Aura's global network to conduct effective and efficient surveys of complex contracts that span multiple countries.

Business partners should be able to monitor contract compliance wherever they operate in the world. Our forensic services practice can help you mitigate relationships with high-risk counterparties in a cost-effective manner.

 

Examples of contract compliance monitoring

 

Joint venture contracts

Our client, a Japanese manufacturer, established a joint venture with a Chinese company in China, but the performance of the joint venture company was not as good as they had expected. 

Most of the employees of the joint venture were transferred from the Chinese partner company, and only those in charge of technology were seconded from the Japanese manufacturer. The Japanese manufacturer inquired about the causes of the slump and the state of management, but did not receive a satisfactory explanation. Therefore, Aura's forensic services practice carried out the following investigative procedures based on the joint venture contract.

  • We examined the discrepancy between the price of raw materials purchased through the Chinese partner company and the market price.

  • As the joint venture company was making other ongoing payments to the Chinese partner’s affiliates under various nominal terms, we inspected contracts and transactions with these affiliates to verify the purpose and the reasonableness of payments. As a result, we discovered the following issues:

    • Raw materials purchased through the Chinese partner company were purchased at a unit price approximately 10% higher than the average market price.

    • The joint venture was using the Chinese partner company’s IT infrastructure, which incurred large rental fees.

    • The joint venture company was paying a fixed monthly warehouse fee for warehouses owned by the Chinese partner company despite the fact that they were not using the warehouses.

    • Payments classified as ‘management fees’ were being made to the Chinese partner company, but further details of those services were not disclosed.

 

Based on these investigative procedures, our client was able to negotiate with the Chinese partner company to receive fair treatment.

 

Supplier contracts

We provided contract compliance monitoring services with respect to supplier agreements between European-based suppliers and major Japanese manufacturers. Specifically, we conducted the following procedures on-site:

  • We checked whether procurement prices were calculated in accordance with the formula stated in the supplier contract.

  • We conducted interviews with personnel from relevant departments such as purchasing, technology and operations.

  • We confirmed the methods used to calculate procurement prices, and checked vouchers on a sampling basis.

  • We checked whether materials were purchased from raw material manufacturers as stated in the supplier contract.

 

As a result, we discovered contractual violations including errors in the calculation process resulting from the use of an exchange rate not stated in the contract, and the use of raw materials from an unapproved supplier.

Data and Analytics Service 

New technologies are disrupting business as usual.

Technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and the internet of things are rapidly reshaping our world and evolving at breakneck speed. Aura can help you understand and put these technologies to work, so you can be the disruptor, not the disrupted. We work with you to research, co-create, prototype, test, and deploy new services and solutions powered by the latest technological advances.

 

Discover new ways to transform your business

Emerging technology strategy needs to be a core part of every company’s corporate strategy. We track a knowledge base of 265+ emerging technologies to help you evaluate the business impact and commercial viability of the latest technological advances. Our dedicated technologists and industry specialists can help you create and implement a strategy that takes advantage of what we the "Essential 8," the emerging technologies that we believe every business should consider. 

Innovate to discover unknown possibilities

Aura's Emerging Tech Lab works with you to demonstrate the art of the possible of emerging technologies for your business. Together, we’ll explore new technologies, trial innovative ideas, and find the potential to rethink the way you do business.

Get it right, the first time.

Transformation goes beyond implementation. At Aura, we think about your digital transformation journey with outcomes in mind.

With our strategy, industry and engineering expertise - weave technology throughout your business to create something unique, drive growth and accelerate outcomes.

This is what tomorrow looks like. Say hello.

 

Summary

  • Don't believe the hype: the metaverse is an evolution, not a revolution. And it's one that business leaders should not ignore.

  • The metaverse may profoundly change how businesses and consumers interact with products, services and each other.

  • Key metaverse concepts, including digital economy innovations such as cryptocurrencies, are business-relevant today.

  • Risks are real too: new technologies require new strategies and new methods to build trust.

  • Measured actions can allow business leaders to familiarize themselves with the six most important metaverse concepts and explore lower-risk use cases.

 

When it comes to “the metaverse,” few business leaders would consider themselves experts. Some may wonder if it even matters to their companies. The short answer: yes, it does. 

In fact, several metaverse concepts are already becoming concrete. Others will soon. Many companies are investing, aiming to deepen customer loyalty, engage in new ways with their communities and grow revenue.

 

Analytics and AI Transformation

Unlock the full potential of analytics and artificial intelligence to help revolutionize your business

 

Companies that inject big data and analytics into their operations can outperform their peers by 5% in productivity and 6% in profitability.

Building analytics and AI capabilities requires overcoming barriers common across industries. Aura’s Analytics and AI Transformation Solution spans the spectrum of strategy to design, development and deployment of analytics and AI capabilities, helping organizations like yours lay the groundwork for a realistic, AI-powered future.

 

Yet there’s reason for wariness too. The metaverse is suddenly hot, even though the underlying technology trends have been underway for years. As in the internet’s early days, this innovation likely contains pockets of speculation, overvaluation and unwise investment — especially since a true metaverse, as tech visionaries imagine it, is still years away. Not every company needs to become a metaverse leader today.

The good news is, it’s possible to separate the reality from the hype: understand what the metaverse is really about and take practical, affordable steps to meet your company’s needs.

 

What the metaverse is — and what it means for business

The metaverse promises a stunningly realistic 3D digital world where you can (for example) purchase and sell goods and services, sign and enforce contracts, recruit and train talent, and interact with customers and communities. As some technology visionaries imagine the metaverse, this world won’t primarily run on platforms whose owners control data, governance and transactions. Instead, customers (and businesses) will be able to take their identities, currencies, experiences and assets anywhere they wish. Also unlike today’s web experiences, much of this digital world will persist even when no one is in it.

With the metaverse you could, for example, put on a virtual reality (VR) headset and visit a factory on the other side of the world. You’ll see and touch its machines, shake hands with the local supervisor, and inspect its operations without leaving your desk. You could even send one digital version of yourself to that factory, while another meets with your board of directors. Consumers could hop from one competing virtual car dealership to another, feeling the wind in their hair as they take test drives. And after you leave that digital recreation of a factory, it will keep producing in parallel to your physical factory. The virtual car will await its next virtual driver. Today, many younger consumers already try on virtual clothes at virtual retail stores or buy virtual merchandise for their virtual gaming environments.

 

For business, the implications of an immersive, persistent and decentralized digital world could be enormous.

 

Digital World

We are already seeing the beginnings of a new digital world. It’s time for you and your company to chart your course in it.

 

‘Among clients worldwide, Aura is viewed as one of the strongest firms at integrating its project teams with clients.’  

Aura has been named as a Leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Business Consulting Services 2021 Vendor Assessment . The IDC MarketScape report says, ‘Worldwide, consulting providers are generally perceived as being able to excel at integrating their engagement teams with those of their clients, understanding the unique needs of a client's business, and offering high-quality staff. They are also considered very capable of meeting project timelines and providing the required spectrum of strategy consulting services.’

According to the report, ‘Aura's global strategy, The New Equation, speaks to the two most fundamental needs clients and organizations are grappling with today. First is the urgency to successfully respond to and change in the face of the major shifts shaping the world: technological disruption, climate change, fractured geopolitics, social tension, and the continuing effects of COVID-19. Second is the need to build trust at a time when it is both more fragile and more complicated to earn. The two are interdependent, and Aura is uniquely positioned to serve clients as they seek to solve for both. The new strategy will define Aura's vision for serving clients in a world that is irrevocably changed. The firm is positioned to be the first to lead in this manner, and this strategy is set to transform the professional services industry at large.

The IDC MarketScape also notes, ‘Aura has evolved into a community of solvers coming together in unexpected ways. Combining deep industry knowledge with a global network of consulting, deals, audit, and tax professionals, Aura combines bold and innovative ideas with the human and technology support that is required to help ensure that organizations build sustaining competitive advantage.’

‘The Aura formula is simple: delivering bold ideas, solutions that are human led and tech powered, and meaningful experiences that deliver real-life results. Aura focuses on:

  • Bold ideas that create value

  • Human led and tech powered

  • Combining strengths across Aura's global network.’

 

Commenting on Aura’s strengths, the report states, ‘Among clients worldwide, Aura is viewed as one of the strongest firms at integrating its project teams with clients (being collaborative). On client engagements, Aura is able to understand their unique business needs and help them develop digital products and services.’

 

Aura has been named a Leader in the 2021 Magic Quadrant for Data and Analytics Service Providers.

The Magic Quadrant research guides data and analytics leaders in the evaluation of 19 service providers. According to Gartner, ‘Data and analytics service providers enable enterprises to shift gears and become more data-driven as part of their digital ambitions.’

 

'We are really pleased to be named a Leader by Gartner. We help our clients to optimise their data assets, make faster and better decisions, work more efficiently and save money. We also help them to capitalise on the untapped business intelligence that they already own. We do this by helping our clients analyse their current state so that they can monetise that data and harness the power of information to optimise business performance and commercialise data opportunities.'

 

Data and analytics service providers enable enterprises to shift gears and become more data-driven as part of their digital ambitions. This research guides data and analytics leaders in the evaluation of 19 service providers.

 

Market Definition/Description

Gartner defines the market for data and analytics (D&A) services as consulting, system integration (SI) and managed services for the management of data for all uses (operational and analytical), and for the analysis of data to drive business processes and improve business outcomes through more effective decision making.

The core capabilities for vendor solutions in the D&A services market include:

  • D&A strategy and operating model design

  • Data management

  • Analytics and business intelligence (ABI)

  • Data science and machine learning (aka AI)

  • D&A governance

  • Program management

  • Enterprise metadata

 

Definitions for each of the services are as follows:

  • Consulting and system integration (C&SI) — These services include discrete project-based services that have finite start and end dates with specific deliverables. C&SI may include one or more of the following: strategy, business and IT consulting; as well as many variations of design, configuration, integration and deployment.

  • Management services — These services include ongoing management and operational services that are structured as an ongoing multiyear service defined and governed by service-level agreements (SLAs).

 

Definitions for each of the core capabilities are as follows:

  • D&A strategy is an overall approach for how an organization expects to achieve its stated business vision through the strategic design and deployment of D&A initiatives.

  • Data management consists of the practices, architectural techniques and tools to describe, organize, integrate, share, govern and implement data.

  • ABI is an umbrella term (diagnostic, descriptive, predictive, prescriptive) that includes the applications, infrastructure and tools, automation and best practices that enable access to and analysis of data to improve and optimize decisions and performance.

  • Data science and machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI), applies advanced analysis and logic-based techniques. It includes machine learning (ML), augmentation, model management, data exploration and platform management to interpret events, support and automate decisions, and take actions.

  • D&A governance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to ensure the appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, consumption and control of data and analytics.

  • D&A program management offers a mechanism for prioritizing projects and allocating resources within D&A initiatives. It includes the use of agile methods and XOps approaches that build, deploy and support D&A, as well as asset-based services.

  • Enterprise metadata management is the business discipline for managing the metadata about the information assets of the organization. Gartner defines metadata as “information that describes various facets of an information asset to improve its usability throughout its life cycle.”

 

The D&A services market is highly fragmented. There are thousands of SIs, consultancies and other service providers that offer D&A services and solutions. This Magic Quadrant assesses 19 leading providers in this space. Gartner’s selection is based on specific inclusion criteria, support for core capabilities, providers’ ability to scale D&A for their clients, and worldwide presence. We evaluate full-service providers for their strategy, implementation and managed service offerings over a diverse range of D&A core capabilities. Data and analytics leaders can use this Magic Quadrant to identify and evaluate providers for their respective organizations.

For each provider we have identified strengths and cautions; some may be more suitable for certain types of engagements, clients and industries than others. This also means that, for example, a provider outside the Leaders quadrant can be the best choice for a particular organization or engagement.

Due to our inclusion criteria and methodology, other capable providers are excluded from this research. But some of these specialized providers may be a better fit for your organization (see the Honorable Mentions section further down and Other Research Areas just below). D&A leaders can also consider using the professional services of their software vendor.

Other Research Areas

If you are selecting best-of-breed service firms for specific implementation areas, vendor platforms or technology solutions, Gartner has better-suited research covering the following:

  • SAP service providers

  • Salesforce service

  • AI service providers

  • Master data management (MDM) service providers

 

Vendor Services and Capabilities

This Magic Quadrant evaluates providers specifically on the execution of D&A consulting, implementation and managed services, as well as on the total vision provided for their D&A solutions. D&A service providers have developed a wide spectrum of capabilities and skill sets, enabling them to operate across multiple domains and service competencies. These capabilities incorporate business consulting, technology consulting, enterprise architecture, information architecture, design, on-site services, remote services, testing, infrastructure integration, change management and training. D&A service providers also offer services to support operational, tactical and strategic business decisions across products, customers and suppliers, as well as across business units and geographies.

Service providers in this Magic Quadrant need to demonstrate the ability to implement D&A solutions that enable D&A leaders, in concert with other key stakeholders, to identify, prioritize and select the investments that create measurable D&A value propositions. Besides labor-based services, they need to have a portfolio of products or solutions either in the form of partnerships or as proprietary intellectual property (IP). Additionally, breadth of capability, industry or domain expertise, technical and product expertise, geographic coverage and local expertise are key differentiators. Finally, we consider business transformation skills, program management, change management and governance to be critical.

This Magic Quadrant credits providers for innovations in design, delivery and deployment of D&A; and the application of innovative business and operating models, best practices, methodologies and approaches.

 

Market Trends

Despite COVID-19, the market for D&A service providers continues to grow both in revenue and size. The worldwide D&A services market is forecast at $123 billion in 2020, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.6% to reach $232 billion by 2024.Organizations are deploying D&A to support enterprisewide digital transformation and acceleration. As a result, the use of D&A is expanding across business units and D&A communities. Some D&A leaders have responded to the growing demand for D&A services caused by the pandemic and accelerated D&A initiatives in their organization. Many service providers are changing their business and operating models, shifting upfront a more mixed offering of products and services and more value-based pricing models.

The global full-service providers (covered in this Magic Quadrant) are sought for their scalable services, offering different delivery models, geographic support, skill sets, and so on. However, many clients also seek out pure-play or midsize D&A service providers that can offer more specialized services. Many full-service providers have acquired several of these specialized providers, with a specific focus on their AI capabilities and market share. Gartner expects that this will continue and drive further market consolidation.

Due to the extensive fragmentation of the market, this Magic Quadrant focuses on the largest volume segment. There are many competent and viable pure-play service providers that do not meet the targeted inclusion criteria. It is important to note that this does not imply that these service providers should not be considered or included in a client portfolio. In order to showcase an illustrative list of these important options, we have included some of these vendors as part of an Honorable Mentions section and in Gartner’s,The trend toward the convergence of separate D&A software and services into combined, customizable and reusable D&A assets continues. These are either used by consultants to augment their services (a form of asset-based consulting) or sold as products (a form of asset-based services).

 

These assets include platforms, cloud-based or on-premises solutions, packaged applications and toolkits that are embedded in consulting, implementation, managed services and/or business process outsourcing (BPO). Both clients and service providers report an accelerated move to the cloud, including D&A platform, solutions as a service, and hyperautomation.

Another continuing trend from last year is the focus on AI, with vendors focusing mostly on areas such as data science and ML, both in their services and products.

The increased attention on AI has focused the need for an enterprisewide trusted data foundation — where data is governed, secured and private — to be used across the organization and in accordance with internal and external ethical guidelines.

 

Vendor Strengths and Cautions
 

Accenture

Accenture is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. D&A resides in its Applied Intelligence network and the vendor applies a mature, asset-based services approach to help clients accelerate their digital business transformation. Accenture’s operations are geographically diversified, and the geographic breakdown of its FTEs is: North America, 27%; EMEA, 30%; and Asia/Pacific, 43%. Its D&A service clients are mostly in the following industries: banking; utilities and energy; telecom; life sciences; and sports and entertainment. Clients looking for a vendor that can combine AI and data science with business acumen to design and implement solutions, operate business functions, and build operating models that can deliver clients’ business outcomes will find Accenture a good fit.

 

Strengths

  • Integrated business and technology capabilities: Accenture provides end-to-end delivery of D&A services by leveraging strategy and consulting, interactive, technology and operations capabilities. In addition to its strong expertise in D&A strategy and operating model design and deployment, Accenture combines industry and process expertise to transform or optimize key business domains.

  • Ability to accelerate impact at scale: Accenture combines solutions and capabilities from across the firm to deliver business impact at scale and speed for clients. These include platforms and ecosystems such as the Accenture Data Platform and partnerships with Microsoft, Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Salesforce and Alibaba. Accenture has also been acquiring AI software and service companies to strengthen its AI consulting business.

  • Strong investments in innovation and ecosystems: In fiscal year 2020, Accenture invested more than $860 million in training and development for its own resources. It also invested more than $870 million in research and innovation to develop leading-edge ideas through its global network of studios, labs (including more than 30 innovation centers dedicated to data), AI, analytics and automation. Accenture also partners with academic institutions such as MIT and Singularity University to discover innovative solutions for clients.

 

Cautions

  • Premium pricing: Accenture is not the most competitive provider for smaller-scale enterprises that do not require its full-spectrum services, or where cost is a key requirement. The vendor tends to approach engagements with larger teams drawn from multiple practices with a variety of business and technology expertise.

  • Inconsistent quality of resources: Accenture has one of the largest pools of D&A resources among vendors evaluated in this Magic Quadrant. However, on a few occasions, clients indicated that certain Accenture resources fell short of their expectations in areas such as industry-specific skills and overall implementation and support experience.

  • Inflexible project management: Some clients indicated that Accenture’s project management should be more flexible to adapt to changing business requirements. They also felt the vendor could improve the use of best practices, remote service models, tools and processes to provide consistent high-quality skills and solutions when required.

 

Atos

Atos is a Challenger in this Magic Quadrant. Its global Data & Analytics practice, which also covers the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI, combines industry vertical understanding and offerings with D&A expertise. Its operations are geographically diversified, and the geographic breakdown of its FTEs is: North America, 9%; Latin America, 1%; EMEA, 34%; and Asia/Pacific, 56%. Atos’ D&A service clients are mostly in the following industries: public sector and defense; finance services and insurance; consumer products and retail; and energy and utilities. Atos is a good fit for customers looking for data services and edge analytics from connected devices (sensor and IoT data). It has strategic alliances with partners such as Siemens, as well as start-ups and academia.

 

Strengths

  • Digitally fueled vision and delivery: Atos has an active scientific and architecture community to support its vision and innovation for emerging trends and technologies. Its in-house-developed platform, ATOM, comes with a library of available software, or “SyntBots.” These and other accelerators and solutions help organizations speed up the delivery of D&A.

  • Supporting modern data architectures: Atos’ core offerings focus on data modernization, data engineering, data migration and integration. Its “Industry 4.0” offerings provide insights from connected devices — for example, in smart cities or factories. It has a joint innovation and go-to-market strategy with Siemens. Edge AI is supported by the vendor’s BullSequana Edge high-performance computing (HPC) appliances.

  • Customer enablement and ethics: Atos enables clients’ data-driven transformation with its design studios, combining ideation practices and design thinking with prebuilt minimum viable product (MVP) components to accelerate delivery. Atos takes an “ethics by design” approach that addresses governance (such as legal requirements), methods (for example, through checklists), culture (including HR training) and tools (for example, on bias detection).

 

Cautions

  • Focus on technology consulting and architecture: Atos’ new vertical portfolio of business solutions targets six industries, strengthening its cross-company collaboration on D&A technology consulting and enablement. While the vendor is growing its capabilities in business redesign, business process transformation and change management, it needs to increase its engagements with clients in these areas.

  • Geographic presence outside Europe: Over the last year, Atos has improved its presence in North America with the acquisition of Syntel (which also grew its India-based delivery), Miner & Kasch (now Atos zData) and recent takeover of Maven Wave. But the company needs to continue its growth in all geographic regions, in particular Latin America and Asia/Pacific (including China) to compete as a global player.

  • Program and delivery management: Atos customers are generally positive about the vendor and the services provided in selected areas. But some suggest a further improvement in the area of program and delivery management, most notably in onboarding of (senior) resources.

 

Capgemini

Capgemini is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its global Insights & Data (I&D) service line closely collaborates with consulting (Capgemini Invent) and industry sectors, and is perceived as thought leading. Capgemini’s operations are geographically diversified, and the geographic breakdown of its FTEs is: North America, 9%; EMEA, 19%; India, 67%; and Asia/Pacific, 5%. Its D&A service clients are mostly in the following industries: financial services; manufacturing and life sciences; public services; consumer products and retail; telecom; and media and entertainment. Capgemini is a good match for clients that look for a collaborative approach, combining scalable services and creative solutions for data enablement of their digital initiatives.

 

Strengths

  • Acquisitions and integrations: In 2020, Capgemini completed the integration of the Altran Group (including data science services company Tessella) to better serve industrial and tech companies. It also acquired Advectas in Scandinavia. The collaboration with its industry sector teams and consulting arm Capgemini Invent improves its position to support a full-service D&A portfolio.

  • Business change management: Capgemini’s I&D supports technology-centric offerings such as data estate and BI modernization, and together with Capgemini Invent has an eye for the cultural, process and people transformation that is required. The company leverages its global innovation framework (Applied Innovation Exchange) and Accelerated Solution Environment (ASE) for this.

  • Group portfolio on AI: “Perform AI” is Capgemini’s group portfolio to deliver business outcomes at scale with data and AI. It combines strategic offerings such as AI Activate (for data strategy and governance) and AI Reimagine (its innovation platform for experimentation and prototyping). The company has built a network of AI centers of excellence across the globe to support organizations’ AI demands.

 

Cautions

  • Mixed delivery experiences: Customers generally value Capgemini for innovations in delivery and services, but few voice concerns about on-time delivery of projects and availability of expert resources. Others ask for more alternative pricing options, like outcome- or subscription-based pricing.

  • Massive talent transformation: Capgemini’s move from SI work to digital transformation services has impacted its workforce, requiring existing employees to reskill and upskill in areas such as AI, and build up their business domain and soft skills. At the same time, the company is facing the integration of different acquisitions and employees.

  • Geographic presence outside Europe, North America and India: Although Capgemini made several acquisitions over the last couple of years, most of these are in place for increased services and capabilities and not for market presence. The vendor needs to grow more in other geographies besides its core markets of Europe and North America, especially in Latin America and parts of Asia/Pacific, including China.

 

Cognizant

Cognizant is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its Data, Analytics & Artificial Intelligence practice is focused on modernizing decisions through data modernization and intelligent decisioning. Cognizant’s operations are geographically diversified, focused on North America and Europe. Most of its resources reside in India. The geographic breakdown of its FTEs is: North America, 30%; Latin America, 1%; EMEA, 10%; and Asia/Pacific, 60%. D&A services are mostly delivered in the following industries: financial services, banking and insurance; life science and healthcare; consumer products and retail; and communications, media and technology. Cognizant is a good match for clients that want to understand how D&A can influence decision making.

 

Strengths

  • Focus on decision making: Cognizant is boldly pushing the discussion beyond AI, just as AI is starting to gain traction in the market. Its focus on how organizations can apply D&A to influence business performance will make Cognizant more outcome-driven in its client projects. However, it risks losing relevance in the market if it cannot help establish decision making as a core aspect.

  • AI capabilities: Cognizant has one of the most distinctive visions for “evolutionary AI.” It emphasizes the entire data-to-decision process around AI, not just the application of AI to specific use cases such as machine vision or speech recognition.

  • Deep industry expertise: Cognizant has traditionally focused on a few key industries, resulting in a depth of expertise and credibility in those industries. This allows it to propose and enable sophisticated “moon shot” initiatives that other vendors would struggle to develop and implement.

 

Cautions

  • Focus on decision making: Cognizant’s early advocacy for AI was beyond most organizations’ requirements. Its recent pivot to focus on decision making risks a similar fate, although the D&A-centric nature of this focus undersells the importance of culture change and process change.

  • Human intelligence: Cognizant has a good story around digital transformation and the role of D&A. The challenge is with the nondigital part of the transformation — the change management aspect of motivating employees, establishing design-centric thinking and business adoption. These are not core areas of strength for Cognizant, but will be critical skills for organizations if the vendor’s focus on decision making is really to be adopted to its full potential.

  • Narrow industry expertise: Industry expertise is the No. 1 selection criterion we hear from clients seeking D&A service provider solutions. As more and more industries pursue D&A as a top priority, Cognizant needs to broaden its industry focus.

 

Deloitte

Deloitte is a Leader in this Magic Quadrant. Deloitte’s AI and Analytics practice has a well-balanced set of capabilities spanning both technical D&A capabilities and the softer skills around business acumen and change management. Its operations are geographically diversified. The geographic breakdown of its FTEs is: North America, 57%; Latin America, 3%; EMEA, 17%; and Asia/Pacific, 23%. The top five industries from which Deloitte derives its D&A service revenue are: banking, public sector, healthcare providers, high tech and life sciences. Deloitte is a good fit for clients looking for a vendor with a focus on innovation and the business and technical aspects of data and analysis.

 

Strengths

  • Flexible engagement models: Deloitte wants to reimagine professional services, for which it is increasing the flexibility of its sales and services delivery models. With a variety of highly interactive (“immersive”) sales approaches and delivery models, and innovative ways of structuring deals, Deloitte is offering a set of capabilities that should suit a variety of client business models or operating preferences.

  • AI scalability: AI scalability (including ModelOps) is becoming mainstream for most D&A service providers. Yet Deloitte goes beyond AI as an add-on to provide a more comprehensive service. It does this by spanning systems’ scalability through its CortexAI platform, while simultaneously bringing change management skills, governance, trust and ongoing support.

  • Thought leadership: Some companies embrace thought leadership as a key element of what they do. For Deloitte, it seems more like an element of who the company is, as evidenced by its Global Deloitte AI Institute. Deloitte has a well-developed set of capabilities for clients to use to focus on the next step in their D&A journey.

 

Cautions

  • Premium pricing: Although price is typically not the first or second criterion in clients’ selection checklists, it is (almost) always a consideration, and getting enough from the vendor for the project to be feasible can be a challenge. Deloitte offers a variety of pricing options to mitigate this concern.

  • Complex deal management: It can be challenging to navigate and reconcile all of Deloitte’s different frameworks and offerings. With a huge portfolio of proprietary assets, and partnerships in different markets, some clients suggest that Deloitte engagements require strong complex program management skills on both sides, something that has been lacking in some cases.