Consulting is a knowledge centric industry where the client needs are met through knowledge solutions rendered through reports, training sessions and on site deployments of the ideas suggested. Thanks to the Web 2.0 era, the consulting malaise of Cntrl +C and Cntrl+V can be easily detected, and fortunately the client too has the secondary same data set and information asymmetry is on an even footing.The fourth industrial revolution with the advent of machine learning driven predictive modelling and data gathering through bots, is ratcheting up the game for the consultant.
The best package for the consulting space is to merge the professionalism of the Investment Banking sector with the intellectual rigor and writing of liberal arts academe and to remove the ‘expert’ pretensions and work on delivering value, by thinking out of the box and delivering expectations at the correct price point. The transition from vendor to partner cannot happen cannot occur sans a value driven culture.
Long term collaborations between client and consultant is a rare commodity unless a Master Services Agreement is available, and this alone is the domain of the big players, where the niche, small sized consulting firm cannot even bid for them many a time, for a retainer services arrangement as they cannot match the scale.
The pressures on the margins on every report churned out is significant and the focus is on the billings of the quarter rather than investing in long term bets which are capital intensive such as technology deployments and training.
Consultants will have to be agile and intellectual with an eye for implementation potential in order to demand top dollar as the sharing economy of freelancers (with many hiring independent contractors) is further reducing margins. Overheads such as a big office on the 21st floor seem like a luxury that few can afford. The shared working space or the friendly neighborhood coffee shop is more like it for small players. Big ticket contracts in the public sector are increasingly being made accessible to start ups in Singapore and India, as the best bang for the buck is expected.
Consultants have to walk the talk on their ideas with the client, with implementation support on the ground. The new mantra could be ‘Be implementable, or perish’ inverting the academic adage.