A new year brings new challenges, opportunities, and trends. This goes for various markets, and consulting is no different. Whether the changes are operational, technological, or financial, one thing is glaringly clear: adaptability is crucial to not only surviving but thriving. Here we outline some trends that are likely to affect the consulting industry this year. By recognizing these changes and preparing for them, we will be better able to assist our clients in an ever-evolving environment.
1. Newer factors such as freelancers and alternative service providers are increasingly entering the field
A new threat that could be facing consulting agencies today is what is called “on-demand” experts, or freelance workers whose expertise is specific and available at a moment’s notice. Clients expect ever-faster specialist solutions to their evolving business needs, threatening more conventional consulting practices who are not able to match freelancer’s quick and acute capabilities. However, hope remains for larger consultancies that understand how imperative flexibility and technological agility are, allowing for clients to be satisfactorily serviced with quick and skilled experts. Furthermore, there is still a significant benefit offered to clients by traditional consulting practices. Long-term relationships and a track record of success cut down the amount of time consultants must spend getting started at a client, and having historical knowledge of the client’s challenges can help consultants find more customized and appropriate solutions.
2. Pressure for consultants to have a wider breadth of expertise
In the world of consulting, the idea of clients wanting their consultants to have up-to-date knowledge of technologies and be highly skilled is not new. Nevertheless, with the rate of technological advancement and the speed at which new information is available, it is understandable for even the most devoted of consultants to feel overwhelmed. In an effort to meet the massive demand for such endless knowledge, some larger consulting agencies have been acquiring tech start-ups and merging with digital agencies in order to compensate for any latencies. Percipio’s team of experienced consultants allows us to provide a broad range of expertise in a lean consulting team.
3. Collaboration among different professional services firms is becoming more ordinary
No one consultant can possibly be an expert in all fields, and so too a consulting practice cannot be expected to have solutions in all knowledge spheres. Consequently, as the demand for the utmost range and depth of expertise understanding grows, consultancies have been partnering with other firms and independent “freelance” consultants to better strengthen themselves against the intensifying burden. Correspondingly, clients themselves will suggest or request for in-house collaboration amongst multi-source varying service providers in order to achieve organizational goals. Certainly, embracing work with a variety of competitors in the service of a common client would prove beneficial to all.
4. Pricing and billing models are shifting
Increasing demand for non-traditional pricing and billing models are changing the interactions between client and consultant. Traditionally, pricing and billing for consultative services have been charged in set intervals or upon the project completion. Now, however, a growing number of clients call for custom pricing and billing models in order to more quantifiably discern their return on investment. “Benchmarks met” as a payment criterion, for example, allows clients to precisely obtain output value based on the number of dollars spent.
Although many of these trends appear to be burdensome and wrought with new and complex challenges, they should not be shied away from nor swept under the rug. With these changes come opportunities to grow, learn, and evolve as a consultancy. Business, technology, and finance are never in stasis, and neither should your consulting practices. Adaptability is essential in a constantly changing business environment. Understanding your competition, continually growing your knowledge base, fostering collaboration amongst outsiders, and remaining flexible for pricing and billing models will ensure client security and satisfaction for years to come.