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I have recently been investigating the changes that are playing out in the world of consulting. Having been a consultant most of my career, ten of those as a partner in a large firm, I have found myself questioning what its future will look like.
This questioning came about partly because I am now in the growing market of boutique consultants — which forces one to look at how one operates differently, partly because one of my roles is working with a start-up to actively build an Artificial Intelligence (AI) approach to how consulting is delivered, and partly because it just feels like post-COVID clients will be more open — perhaps more inclined — to think innovatively about how they source their external help.
So, what have I learnt?
I have been somewhat surprised, enlightened, and excited by the rate at which the value chain for consulting is being digitized. The diagram below is my attempt at reconstructing the value chain to help visualize this:
This digitization is shifting value up-stream and down-stream from traditional project-based delivery and revenue in three main ways:
These three trends — digital solutions, IPaaS, and micro consulting — represent the largest shifts at play in the digitization of consulting. In fact, there is not one part of the value chain in consulting where a digital solution, or digital marketplace, or digital service provision, that does not exist as an option for clients to leverage.
In fact, there is not one part of the value chain in consulting where a digital solution, or digital marketplace, or digital service provision, that does not exist as an option for clients to leverage.
There are traditional players like McKinsey and Accenture who have been building out their own solutions marketplaces. There are independent consultants building out their disruptive platforms and major technology players stepping into the fray to provide their digitized equivalents. As such, the playing field of new entrants is expanding – even amidst ongoing acquisition by the traditional consulting housed designed to shore up and protect their businesses from the changing environment.
What is exciting is that this evolution — or, depending on how you look at it, this disruption — is still in the early stages of its journey. I truly believe we have much more ahead of us in the number of solutions and providers in the market, but also the innovation still to come, particularly as AI starts to take a stronger foothold (more on this topic in my next blog).
What exactly does this mean for clients?
Rather than outsourcing the whole need, issue or project to a team of consultants, you have the option to adopt a more flexible, modular approach to where and how you get your advice delivered. This can be part solution, part expert, and part self-service IP – aka, Consulting-as-a-Service (CaaS).
Rather than outsourcing the whole need, issue or project to a team of consultants, you have the option to adopt a more flexible, modular approach to where and how you get your advice delivered.
So, why would you do it?
So, if you haven’t yet explored this CaaS world, here is a good way to start:
Let’s face it, with fairly significant capability shifts in digitization, AI, and Cyber just to name just a few, and with continual technological innovations and a growing pool of new disruptors, getting great advice, expertise, and insight is arguably more valuable than ever. Thankfully, your options to do this now exist, and they are more cost-effective than ever.
The consulting industry is changing rapidly as new digital consulting solutions are being developed. Will the big players be able to keep up?
The consulting value chain is digitizing rapidly. Clients now have the option to adopt a more flexible, modular approach to business advice.