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You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry where modern and digital technologies have not changed the way things work. Many revolutionary and disruptive platforms have sprung into existence in recent years, not the least of which are AI, IoT, automation, robotics and big data.
The world of consulting is no exception in this regard. Many are calling this movement the digitization or digital evolution of conventional processes and systems.
KPMG International predicts 2018 will see a shift to full digitization by the end of the year and into the next, which is creeping ever closer.
Technology has forced consulting firms to digitize their processes and operations to keep up with industry trends, and also to provide reliable, speedy and quality service to their clients.
These new systems and tools are completely changing the way in which firms work. Mobile is especially disruptive, but so are big data and cloud computing.
Welcome to a Digital Future
Consulting firms have begun implementing many different, innovative strategies as a means to power their digital transformation projects, which has undoubtedly brought about change, more specifically in how specialists handle modern duties. What does digitization look like in the consulting world, though? What has changed?
Perhaps the biggest and most obtrusive change is that long-cycle and premise-based opportunities are shifting considerably. The focus is now on cloud-based and short-cycle projects, as the technologies in use make it possible to complete the work — even with deep customization involved — within shorter timeframes.
Conventional players face the biggest hurdle in overcoming this new way of doing things. Modern and newer digital consultant firms have worked with sprint and short-cycle based projects all along.
Traditional consulting firms, however, have to revise their processes and knowledge to meet the new project scope. There’s really no decision involved, merely an adapt-or-die requirement.
Furthermore, the traits and components of conventional consulting are now obsolete, for all intents and purposes. In the past, firms would take their time to deliver new products and features, doing a lot of planning to iron out requirements and potential solutions.
That’s no longer the case because digital natives now want technologies and systems they interact with to adapt quickly and dynamically. Consultant teams have to stay on their toes in this landscape, and must also provide real-time updates.
This results in a somewhat unstable environment where projects and systems are constantly getting worked on, improved and adapted.
Finally, most consultant firms have never had any interest in offering proprietary or owned products. Instead, it was more about providing expertise and support for third-party solutions.
But the cloud has turned that on its head by eliminating prohibitive sales and the like. Skilled consulting teams can take full advantage of this to deliver licensed products that repeatedly identify and solve problems. Consultants have direct access to the kind of knowledge, experience and tools required to make this happen.
Digital Solutions Aplenty, but Nothing Sticks
Modern digital technologies have evolved at a breakneck pace in recent years. So many different platforms, tools, software solutions, and opportunities have emerged that it can be somewhat difficult to keep up.
Even mobile apps are helping digitally transform the consulting world, offering solutions for travel expenses, communication, personnel management and meal planning.
But despite the advancements, new implementations and growing market of opportunity, many consultants feel they are not far along in their digitization journey. Collectively, the industry appears to be in the early stages of adoption.
One could even argue that, as a whole, consultants are lagging — which is ironic, considering so many consultant firms are actively pushing the idea of digitization and the modern digital evolution.
Deloitte was one of the first to embrace the up-and-coming digital culture with its Deloitte Digital platform. Accenture, BCG Digital Ventures and several other firms followed suit. But there needs to be a bigger push and more widespread adoption.
It is possible for any of the four largest consulting companies — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC — to get unseated by another, newer firm that has access to reliable data resources in a digital form. It’s even looking likely, at this point.
The important takeaway here is that the industry is moving at an alarming pace, and so is the world around it. Digital and modern technologies are not just taking hold — they’re completely replacing age-old processes and conventional methods.
The benefits are vast too, with higher efficiency and productivity, lowered costs, more accurate prediction models and decision-making.
The real question is: Why hasn’t everyone pushed for faster, more capable digitization? It is a must for anyone who wants to thrive in the current market.
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