Global IT consulting is such a huge industry that it’s estimated to be worth over $250 billion in 2016. There are many reasons for the year-on-year growth but digital technology, mergers and consolidation, and effectiveness are among the major drivers of the industry.
Organizations typically look at the previous experience of the consulting firm in dealing with similar issues. This gives them the competence to handle the situation effectively.
The industry is consistently growing because it is painfully aware that it’s a customer-driven business. Consulting firms that are able to adjust quickly to the changing tides will likely thrive.
Here’s a look at the latest trends that should keep you on edge:
Top global trends in the IT consulting industry
A. Customers are becoming more sophisticated — The consulting firm is expected to bring not just the expertise but also the track record. Clients will ask to show proof, especially how you handle a crisis similar to theirs.
B. Collaboration — You must be willing to collaborate with a competitor because clients are not sticking with one consulting firm. They still want value for their money.
C. Company culture matters — This is especially true with Asian companies where they put a stock on the organizational structure much more than their western counterparts. It’s not just about what you are, but also whom you send to help the client.
D. Big data — The value of big data analytics is greater than ever. When information is being exchanged at breakneck speeds, consulting firms are relying more and more on market research analytics.
E. Automating processes — In the same vein, administrative tasks are delegated to automation software so consultants can focus more on the value they bring to their clients. Machine learning is also important to map out customer behavior.
F. Piecemeal solutions — Customers now want ala carte solutions to specific problems rather than hiring the services of a consulting firm on a retainer basis.
G. Online consulting — The advances in technology allows for solutions to be delivered on online platforms. This is preferred by some customers because of the service on-demand.
H. Growth in offshoring — Offshoring and outsourcing are not really new but the fact that they continue to grow means customers see the value they bring.
Challenges to the IT consulting industry
There are many challenges confronting consulting firms. But these challenges are not unique to the industry. Pick a
sector and you will likely see the same problems.
- Attracting new clients — While global consulting is a multi-billion-dollar industry, realistically speaking, only a small percentage of these companies is cornering the biggest slice of the pie. It’s hard for new entrants to succeed and for consultants to retain their customers in the long term.
- Innovation — Faced with a constantly changing landscape, consulting firms also have to innovate. But that’s just one part of the equation, they also have to make sure their ideas are embraced by their customers.
- Stiff competition — This harkens back to the first challenge. The big consulting firms are getting bigger as they merge. It’s hard to break through in this industry and even harder to sustain success.
- Crafting strategy — You need a viable market strategy to address all these challenges and more.
Adaptation of strategies in the changing IT consulting landscape
A. Adapting to the technology — Automation, big data analytics, machine learning, and AI–they all serve to enhance and simplify the job of consulting firms while delivering better outcomes.
B. Changing the rules — Small consulting firms have succeeded in carving their niche through specialty services. As a result, they are causing a small disruption in the traditional business model.
C. Talent spotting and retention — In an industry where turnover and attrition are high, consulting firms really have to make sure they reward employees a propriately. This is especially true with high-level consultants with a reputation for giving results.
D. Collaboration — Rather than ease them out, the more established consulting firms are collaborating with niche service providers to tap their expertise.
Business & IT Consulting firms must quickly adapt to a rapidly changing environment. They need to keep abreast of the trends in the market. But this is easier said than done, especially when the timing is everything. Innovating too soon in an unprepared market may backfire and adapt too late may be lethal.