Atos acquisition of AI consulting firm looks promising

Atos, a global IT services company, acquired a data science and AI consulting firm as more enterprises move from experimenting with AI to deploying it at scale.

Atos, a France-based global IT services company, acquired data science and AI consulting firm Miner & Kasch in a bid to expand its big data and AI-focused consulting practice. The acquisition of the Maryland-based firm comes as enterprises increasingly move out of AI pilot and experimentation phases and into deploying AI at scale.

The Miner & Kasch purchase, revealed April 22, builds on Atos' acquisition of consulting firm zData in 2017 and enables Atos to accelerate its data science service offering. Between zData and Miner & Kasch, Atos now has  more than 100 AI consultants on staff.

AI at scale

The new acquisition appears to help Atos' customers take on data science and AI projects at scale, as well bring in new customers, said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder of market advisory and research firm Deep Analysis.

Specialist services, like the ones offered by Miner & Kasch, are almost always needed to implement and design effective AI applications, Pelz-Sharpe said.

"Interest in AI was huge a few years ago, but practical experience has shown that though the technology is advanced, customers have very specific needs to address and implementation is often far from straightforward," he said. "Outside of niche applications such as document capture and autoclassification, AI is seldom 'out of the box' because it involves a lot of data training and modification to meet the customers' requirements."

Atos' AI consultants "will I expect be kept very busy over the coming years," he added.

According to Jerome Sandrini, head of big data and security in North America at Atos, the acquisition corresponds with Atos' growth strategy in North America.

"Atos is constantly looking at accelerating growth in the most innovative domains of technology such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity," he said.

The company found the right target in Miner & Kasch, which Sandrini said is a "pure player" in AI and data science consulting.

At odds

The Atos acquisition of Miner & Kasch came the same day that Atos, a publicly traded company, removed its 2021 guidance for investors and canceled its proposed 2019 dividends amid slumping sales likely tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

AI and automation in general will likely experience a surge of interest and activity post-pandemic.
Alan Pelz-SharpeFounder, Deep Analysis

Still, despite the lower than expected sales, Atos' big data and cybersecurity division had a 16.3% increase in revenue in the first quarter over the first quarter of 2019.

"This illustrates that some parts of the business will suffer and some others will continue to strongly perform as the demand for AI and cybersecurity remains strong since they are often strategic to business continuity and transformation programs even more urgently required by some of our customers," Sandrini said.

Pelz-Sharpe also cautioned against reading into the timing of the two announcements.

Acquisition deals like this frequently take over a year to finalize, and once they begin, are hard to stop.

"That said, though nobody can predict anything for sure right now, AI and automation in general will likely experience a surge of interest and activity post-pandemic," Pelz-Sharpe said. "So, one can argue the timing is in fact perfect as every acquisition takes time to settle and integrate into the whole."

In another recent move, Atos finalized the acquisition of Google Cloud Premier partner Maven Wave in February.

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