The Future of Consulting

The Consulting industry, over the last few decades, has been at the forefront of helping firms navigate their key Enterprise Transformation initiatives. The industry has typically helped clients navigate these transformations through an optimal combination of proprietary frameworks, IP, tools, and a team of consultants trained with in-house consulting methodologies. 

However, the accelerated advancement of Next-gen technologies in the last few years and increased adoption of the same by clients for organization improvement initiatives has rendered a number of hitherto traditional consulting services redundant such that the industry finds itself now in the throes of disruption and needs to reinvent and transform to stay relevant!

Given the above context, we highlight the top 5 trends that we think will shape the Consulting industry over the next decade and which the industry will be best served to pay attention to

Execution over Strategy – While Strategy will continue to be important, clients will increasingly give precedence to consulting firms who can walk the talk and take strategy through to execution and deliver on the outcomes for the fees they charge. For example, the classic strategy’s share of work has been steadily decreasing and is now about 20%, down from 60% to 70% some 30 years ago, according to Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory. Strategy consultancy firms have recognized this threat and have made a number of moves toward the execution aspects through acquisitions, partnerships, or building digital platforms.
Technology will be at the core of any Consulting – Technology will be at the core of almost every form of consulting. Business leaders have historically always delegated technology and IT enablement to specialists. As a result, technology had seldom been a part of the C-Suite board room strategy discussions. That will no longer be the case. With new emerging technologies and business models, clients will increasingly want to know the ‘How’ part of the Strategy from all Consulting firms and will expect Consulting firms to up their game in being able to deliver the desired business outcomes through the optimal combination of next-gen technologies  – automation, AI, big data, digital and Cloud to deliver on outcomes such as user experience, employee experience, productivity, process improvement, agility, etc.
Skin in the game will become the norm than a differentiator. Clients will expect consulting firms to be accountable to the fees being paid and tie a part of their fees to the outcomes achieved. While this is currently already being used by some firms as a differentiator, this will become a defacto model of operations in the future.
End of the monolith – the rise of ecosystems and modular specialists –  Consulting firms will increasingly form partnerships with a broader ecosystem of specialist partners, each of whom brings a unique capability to the table in which they excel. As more specialist boutique firms continue to emerge, the era of a single monolithic setup with one Consulting organization handling all aspects will be a thing of the past. Clients now recognize that several specialists and boutique firms can deliver the desired outcomes at a fraction of the cost by leveraging the latest technologies. The traditional firms will have to partner with these specialist firms while owning the overall transformation accountability. There are already increasing trends of this playing out in significant Transformations with multi-vendor scenarios.
Work from anywhere will be the norm; hybrid – While the pandemic has already accelerated and established the hybrid model of working, this will go one step further to a ‘work from anywhere’ option. Clients will increasingly be less concerned about where the talent is located as long as they get the right talent at the right value. As a result, location flexibility will become a key decision influencer for consultants as they choose firms. Firms that offer maximum flexibility will be the ones who will be able to attract the best talent.

As these trends strengthen over the next few years and become mainstream, Consulting firms will do well to adapt to these earlier than later to avoid transitioning from the ones helping clients navigate their disruptions to the ones being disrupted themselves.

Ravi Nagarajan is a Partner with Infosys Consulting and is actively engaged with a number of leading clients across sectors in their Transformation initiatives.

IT Consulting Services