Finnish telecom giant Nokia announced this morning that it would cut 7,000 jobs worldwide as part of an effort to reduce costs by more than $1 billion in 2013. 4,000 of those jobs will be terminated outright, the company said; the remaining 3,000, responsible for Nokia's Symbian software platform, will become employees at tech consulting giant Accenture.
Accenture described the employee transfer as symbolic of a "strategic collaboration" between the two companies, an alliance which will see Accenture "provide mobility software services to Nokia for future smartphones," which are expected to run on a Windows platform. The Symbian platform, which the Wall Street Journal describes as "outdated and cumbersome next to its competitors," had served as the basis of Nokia's smartphone line-up for several years.
Accenture to help smooth the transition from Symbian to Windows.
It should be a reasonably smooth transition for the ex-Nokia employees making the move to Accenture. The affected employees, based in China, Finland, India, the UK and the US, "will initially work on Symbian software activities for Nokia," the consultancy said in a statement. "Over time, Accenture and Nokia will seek opportunities to retrain and redeploy transitioned employees."
As for the "mobility software services" Accenture is slated to provide to Nokia, that engagement will be limited to work involving Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, which is seen as a more viable competitor to those used by Apple and Google (makers of iPhone and Android, respectively), the company's biggest competitors in the mobile communications segment. The cost-cutting measures adopted by Nokia—which produced nearly 110 million cell phones last year—are largely in reaction to big gains by these and other competitiors, the New York Times reports. This year, the Times asserts, Apple overtook the Finns as the industry's biggest revenue-earners.
Accenture execs touted the "strategic collaboration" and welcomed the 3,000 new employees, which will push Accenture's total employee headcount to almost 220,000 worldwide. "Mobility is a key area for Accenture," said Marty Cole, Accenture's communication/high tech chief. "This collaboration with Nokia will enhance our ability to help clients across multiple industries leverage mobility to advance their business agendas. It is a real win-win for Accenture and Nokia."
It's an interesting move for Accenture, which could have a couple of factors in mind. For one, it's likely that these 3,000 Symbian folks possess the technical chops to hang with the tech-savvy consultants at Accenture; if the firm's "retrain and redeploy" statement is any indicator, tech-savvy consultants is probably what they'll end up being. Also worthy of note is the nature of Accenture's relationship with Nokia; dating back to 1994, the Accenture/Nokia connection has grown closer over the years, so maybe Accenture thinks it's doing Nokia a little favor by taking on the Symbian 3000 (which would be a wonderful name for a vacuum cleaner). But of course, more important than favor is revenue. As the line between smartphones and personal computers starts to blur, Accenture clearly sees an opportunity to consult at the crossroads of mobile and enterprise technology.
For comprehensive coverage of hirings and firings across every industry and profession, check out the Vault Employment Tracker.
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Photo: Winfried Rothermel, AP
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