Cognizant has announced its acquisition of Belcan, a leader in Engineering, Research, and Development (ER&D) services. This $1.29 billion deal, involving both cash and stock, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2024. The acquisition will significantly bolster Cognizant’s ER&D capabilities and diversify its client base into high-growth A&D markets. 

How This Acquisition Benefits Cognizant

The acquisition presents several advantages for Cognizant:

  1. Market Expansion: Belcan grants Cognizant access to the high-growth ER&D services market, expected to reach $255 billion by 2026 and grow at a CAGR of over 10%. A&D, a particularly strong segment within ER&D, is expected to grow at an even faster pace of 12-13% CAGR.
  2. Synergy and Growth: Cognizant anticipates over $100 million in annual revenue synergies within three years through cross-selling its services to Belcan's established client base and vice versa. The combined entity will also be able to scale its global delivery capabilities to address the growing demand for outsourced engineering services in the commercial aerospace sector.
  3. Leadership in A&D: Belcan brings to the table a strong reputation and long-standing relationships with blue-chip clients in the A&D industry. This will allow Cognizant to establish itself as a leader in this lucrative sector. 27 of the top 30 Belcan’s clients are Global 2000 companies or the US Federal Government.
  4. Onshore Workforce Expansion: With 85% of Belcan’s 6,500 employees based in North America, Cognizant significantly strengthens its onshore capabilities, addressing the growing client demand for near-site technical expertise.

Impact on the ER&D services market

The acquisition sets a new benchmark in the ER&D services market. Cognizant’s enhanced capabilities and expanded client base will intensify competition, particularly in the aerospace and defense sectors. Other major players may need to reconsider their strategies and potentially seek similar acquisitions to maintain their market positions. Additionally, the deal underscores the importance of onshore capabilities, potentially influencing workforce strategies across the industry.

The IT and engineering services landscape is constantly evolving. This acquisition is likely to accelerate the convergence of these two domains. We can expect to see other major IT services providers following suit and inorganic growth through acquisitions becoming a prominent strategy.

Source: Belcan

How AI Can Revolutionize ER&D Services

AI is poised to revolutionize the ER&D services domain. Cognizant, leveraging Belcan’s expertise, has potential to harness AI to drive innovation and efficiency in several ways:

  1. Predictive Maintenance: AI can analyze vast amounts of data from aerospace and defense systems to predict failures and optimize maintenance schedules, reducing downtime and costs.
  2. Design and Simulation: AI-driven design tools can enhance the accuracy and speed of engineering simulations, leading to more efficient product development cycles.
  3. Enhanced Automation: AI can automate routine engineering tasks, allowing skilled engineers to focus on more complex and creative aspects of projects, thereby increasing productivity and innovation.

Recommendations for CxOs

  • Reassess Vendor Partnerships: With Cognizant's enhanced capabilities, CxOs should re-evaluate their ER&D service provider relationships. The combined entity may offer unique value propositions, especially for companies operating at the intersection of IT and engineering.
  • Explore Integrated Service Models: Consider how the convergence of IT and engineering services could benefit your organization. Integrated service models could lead to faster innovation and more cohesive product development cycles.
  • Prepare for AI-Driven Engineering: Start building internal capabilities to leverage AI in your engineering processes. Partnering with providers like the new Cognizant-Belcan entity could accelerate this transition.
  • Monitor Industry Consolidation: Keep a close eye on further consolidation in the ER&D services market. This acquisition could trigger a series of similar moves, potentially affecting service availability and pricing.
  • Invest in Talent Retention: With the growing importance of domain expertise and long-term client relationships in ER&D services, redouble efforts to retain key engineering talent within your organization.