The Covid-19 crisis has hit hard businesses of all kinds in all industries and consulting is no exception. We are in the a global recession and a pandemic, to survive amongst the chaos, consultants will need to quickly adapt to their client’s needs, in terms of structure, operations and services in this client-driven industry.
Consultants are used to adapting but this has arguably never been more apparent than now, where businesses are facing a unique set of pressures that they are turning to consultants to help address.
With the unfolding crisis, the future of consulting is being shaped. How can consultants adapt to meet them?
By working with many clients, consultants are able to provide tried and tested solutions to solve client’s needs. However, offering best practices aka “one size fits all” as solutions is not specific to a client’s requirements and is a diminishing business model. Customers are now looking for tailored services to cope with their shifting demands; when the client’s expectations are not met, expect them to look elsewhere.
Gone are the days where generalists can thrive in consulting. As industries become more complex, so do the needs of the businesses. To meet the client’s objectives, consultants require an in-depth understanding of the client’s industry to target the methodology and technology used to provide an efficient solution. With the acceleration of digitalisation resulting in the growth of new technologies industry specific, a consultant or industry consultancy firm that specialises in a particular niche will be best positioned to provide the right business strategy.
Strategy and transformation can not be expected to follow a 10 year plan. In an age of constant evolution, making long term plans will no longer work in a context where it can be rendered irrelevant in a matter of months. Predicting scenarios, looking at factors, the environment and trends, is no longer a sure method to making the most beneficial decision. Strategies will need to be more fluid and flexible to meet the growing market dynamics on a short-term basis.
Replace focusing purely on strategy advisory with a way to bring the strategy to life, by demonstrating the tangible benefits of strategic work.
A sparring business partner: ‘someone you trust, who is able to step in your shoes given their first hand business experience and who understands the strategic context of your organisation. You can reflect on challenges and bounce off ideas and strategies to overcome them’.
The future of consulting is to become a trusted advisor, not a temporary advisor. In the past a consultant would bring their expertise and develop and implement the solutions, then go. Today however, clients are more interested in partnering with consultants to reach their long term goals.
For the consultant to be a trusted advisor, they will need to keep up to date with the insights of the company and what’s happening in the industry. Focusing on quick wins and new opportunities should be replaced by structuring value-orientated business models, with a long-term client relationship at the heart.
Organisations, large and small, will need to shift their focus to using data efficiently. Many are struggling with the transition and consultancies can help clients adapt to their data expectations. Using data can improve customer experience, enhance the running of the internal operations, streamline processes and support innovation with data-based strategies. Automated data-based decision making is the future thanks to services such as AI. Consultants can bring a lot of skills to access and master data, adding value and ultimately crucial growth to their clients.
The future for consultants, they will need deep content. Not only to profoundly understand their industry but also how technology is going to change it. Structuring their strategy with a long-term client relationship at the heart.