SI Partners advises global innovation firm ?What If! on sale to Accenture

04 March 2019
The Author
Joe Hine

Accenture has acquired ?What If!, a privately owned innovation firm that uses an experimentation-driven approach to help clients incubate new products, services, business models and organisational cultures. SI Partners advised the shareholders of ?What If! on the transaction.

The acquisition will further enhance Accenture’s front-end innovation capabilities that help clients rapidly ideate, prototype and scale innovative products and services for the digital economy and will form the next chapter in ?What If!’s growth story.

“We are proud to have supported ?What If! at this monumental stage in their 25 year journey. Staff join ?What If! to do the best work of their lives, helping brands answer their biggest innovation questions. Bringing together ?What If!’s creative thinking and Accenture’s technology nous is a very powerful combination that will sustain the growth of business for the next 25 years”. Joe Hine, Partner at SI Partners who led the engagement. 

Headquartered in London, with additional offices in New York and Shanghai,   ?What If! applies provocative and bold thinking with fast iterative testing to help clients build agile and adaptive organisations. Since its establishment in 1992, ?What If! has developed many programs, tools and methods to train and educate people and organisations on building an innovation culture, including proprietary metrics that can measure the commercial viability of a project. The firm has codified the individual and organisational mindsets, skills and working practices that are needed to spark and sustain innovative thinking within large, established organisations, serving as a trusted C-suite advisor.


“Over the last 26 years we have continued to push and re-invent our innovation process, rooted in human centered design, lean iteration and agile economics, to help companies to embrace innovation and empower transformation from the inside. By joining forces with Accenture, we can industrialize and scale our frameworks and methodologies, offering our existing client base a broad range of technology-related capabilities. Together, we’ll be uniquely positioned to enable companies to imagine new futures and turn disruptive ideas into innovative digital solutions that drive business performance.” Dave Allan, ?What If! co-founder and board member. 

“With digital technologies converging, consumer expectations rising, and businesses under constant pressure to stay ahead of the digital curve, the only path forward is constant innovation to ensure flexibility and agility across every business function,” said Eric Schaeffer, a senior managing director at Accenture who leads its global Industrial practice and its Products Industry X.0 practice.

“The acquisition of ?What If! is a significant addition to our innovation-engine capabilities.” Eric Schaeffer, senior managing director at Accenture

?What If! serves FTSE 100 and other leading companies across a variety of industries — including healthcare, finance, high tech, industrial, mobility, and consumer goods and services. Its primary areas of focus include brand and customer engagement, product innovation, and enterprise innovation. For instance, the firm helped a food and beverage company develop a strategy to bring to market a new type of coffee; the new product sold nearly 1 million packs within four weeks and became the company’s most successful coffee launch ever. Using its rapid experimentation-led approach, ?What If! also helped a financial services company launch a new card product faster than it had ever done, exceeding customer-acquisition goals in its first year.

John Zealley, who leads Accenture’s Customer Insight & Growth practice, said, “Together with ?What If!, we will help C-suite executives ask the right questions at the front end of their innovation journeys, imagine the ‘art of the possible,’ and then reinvent themselves — a core part of Accenture’s Living Business growth proposition for clients.”

?What If!’s 170 employees possess a wide range of innovation skills, including strategy, insight and research, ideation, design and commercial analytics. The firm’s distinct experimentation framework and team of experts will complement Accenture’s multidisciplinary teams of designers, developers and other technology experts who work with clients to investigate, imagine and bring to life new ideas in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, connected products and devices.

Read coverage of ?What If! sale to Accenture in Campaign.

Continue Reading