IBM has a strict policy of doing all of its transactions in-house because IT outsourcing is considered core to IBM's business. Certain specialist areas, such as pensions, are sometimes outsourced to firms, including Nabarro Nathanson.
Shaw Pittman's outsourcing practice focuses on advising only customers so that the firm avoids conflicts of interest. This made PwC Consulting an anomaly among Shaw Pittman's portfolio of clients, but the firm had maintained a relationship that went back to its London launch over four years ago.
PwC Consulting is being absorbed into a new part of IBM, named IBM Business Consulting Services, but it is a slow integration as projects can last several years.
PwC Consulting's other outsourcing advisers, Addleshaw Booth & Co and Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, have a number of ongoing issues they are advising on, but it is believed that they, too, are likely to lose out.
Kit Burden is IBM's contact partner at IBM, while Margaret Harvey is the contact partner for Addleshaws. Harvey has previously worked for Shaw Pittman, IBM and PwC Consulting.
Both have more of a supplier focus to their practices and so are less susceptible to conflicts, but they are equally likely to fall victim to IBM's in-house policy.