Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Consulting faces a digital reset

Disruption creates opportunity. In the challenges to our cherished business models and organisational norms there is the requirement to act.
The burning bridge beneath our feet prompts us to make significant and often rapid movement. Just such a moment has arrived for the consulting world.
Platforms enhanced by AI are making application development, business process engineering and customer management all things a business can now do for itself - shifting the role of technology consulting. (in large part out of the door).
New ways of working are giving everyone in the business (and from IT) access to human insight, ideation and rapid innovation - blurring roles and delivering organisational adaptability to align with the needs of the digital world.
And these two drivers alone would be significant enough to force a change in perspective.
But add to the plans in the UK to overhaul regulations in respect of the big four accountancy firms and business as normal faces an existential threat.
KPMG has already announced is will no longer offer consultancy to businesses it audits. It, like the others, has been down this road before.
The Enron scandal in the US prompted a break-up and realignment that resulted in Atos, BearingPoint, Cap Gemini. and a merry go round of acquisitions, rebrands and bankruptcy. Accenture while moving first, was born out of the same climate of concern over  operating models.
So we can expect to see great change in the market.
And with this comes the opportunity to reconfigure consulting for the digital world.
In many ways the industry is late to the party. Digital has wrought its disruption to media, retail, travel, utilities, even government.  Now the consulting business has the opportunity to press its reset.
I believe that means becoming genuinely digital. Digital first. Because all business is becoming digital.  Business is changing/has changed the way it thinks about value, about customer, about experience, about responsiveness (to market mastery).
That means consulting must identify its own a clear value proposition that makes sense in a digital world - understanding its place in what are no longer supply chains or value chains, but eco-systems.
  • It means setting a strategic position as a value hypothesis to be tested through rapid iteration with customer insight at the heart.
  • It means embracing new ways of working and making them the way to work from pitch to delivery - emphasising customer-led design, agility and market responsiveness
  • It means changing KPIs to deliver the open, collaborative, trust-building behaviours required of organisational vs individual performance.
  • It means addressing digital capabiltity and capacity short-falls in creative and scalable ways (see also blurry people)
  • It means establishing the legal and commercial frameworks to support rapid partnership models and value-led billing models
  • It means organising around product/service design, development and life-cycle management
  • It means tackling ambiguity head on - with minimum viable organisations from which to scale out fast, enabled by blurry people and responsive products and services
Make no mistake - when disruption comes knocking at this scale, incremental change will only delay the inevitable. The start-up mentality IS the digital mentality.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?