Market networks to disrupt consulting business

Market networks of independent domain experts is disrupting the age old business models of consulting companies.

Anoop Sahu May 18th 2016 A-A+

Research indicates that the classic strategy kind of work at traditional consulting firms has reduced to 20%, from the earlier 60-70%, three decades ago.  This revealing statistic seems unbelievable at the first instance. However this could be a result of business models of management consulting firms remaining the same over 100 years, in stark contrast to other industries.  It is however obvious that businesses across sectors have adopted disruptiion to function with latest technologies, slowly eliminating classic and traditional methodologies. The newer business models are leaner with more room for flexibility and affordability.  Consultants are finding the need, besides getting inspired, to embrace newer working models to remain relevant and profitable.

The leadership team across enterprises, irrespective of size, will certainly experience an incredible transformation in the way businesses are done over the next ten years.  Some of the realities like the uncertainty of doing business due to market saturation and shift, economic downturn, changing demographics, newer technologies, the revolution in data and analytics demand consulting and allied services to work around them and support their customers to develop and grow.  More and more, it is becoming very clear that size and age of the companies are not as important as their relevance in the current market context. 

Mid-sized companies grow exponentially and have several business challenges to deal with, in addition to being answerable to their investors, enhance valuation and attract the right talent.  They definitely require external help from consulting firms in niche areas where expertise is not present internally.  At the same time they are also not comfortable working with traditional consultanting firms that are very hierarchical in nature, time-consuming and charge exorbitant fees.  Simply collaborating with a limited number of highly talented people across relevant verticals on a network platform is what helps them deliver on projects that bring in quick revenues. This new trend of working with highly specialised consultants, who are part of a connected group, will continue to grow at an exponential rate.

Consulting industry is also closely observing the new and disruptive developments among clients across sectors and building integrated solutions for them with non-traditional business models.  Today, consulting firms are beginning to provide specialised solutions to address any one core issue in the value chain which they have mastered and are equipped with relevant skill-sets and experience.  Such firms are smaller in size but growing in number and their processes and expected outcomes are well-defined.  They offer quick but robust solutions that have intense and far-reaching impact in helping customers achieve their business objectives.  The solutions recommended are disruptive with the right combination of management consulting, cloud-based technology, artificial intelligence, big data, among others. 

Some areas of concern that have to be looked at by consultancies could range from benchmarking competition, market intelligence, mapping and improving operational processes, among others.  Knowledge is commoditized today due to digitization and consultants who provide this are less relevant when compared to those who provide support by applying knowledge gained wisely and gainfully.  Management consulting firms traditionally were afforded by large enterprises only due to the affordability factor, but today due to disruptive innovation in this space, even mid and small firms are leveraging the services of consultants, who are part of market networks.  Rules, systems and processes of old businesses are disrupted with newer and relevant methods of consulting.

Today networks of freelance consultants from different disciplines – technology, finance, management, marketing, law among others--are emerging as winners.  The combined and niche offerings delivered by them have the cost advantage, better flexibility and are deployed at a faster rate with firms increasingly embracing digitization. 

Their capabilities include rapid digitization, data engineering and agility, among others.  These facilitated networks or market networks in consulting services will thus be able to target and provide solutions for complex businesses as each professional brings unique opinions, expertise and relationships. And they collaborate among themselves in the best combination.  This ensures a win-win situation for all stakeholders concerned.  Such disruptive models in management consulting business help build long-term relationships that provide frequent referrals to the partners, increase the rate of market transactions and reduce miscommunications.  Market networks will eventually overtake traditional consulting in every industry by providing better services, positively impacting how people work and deliver.  Market networks along with disruptive technologies have broadened the business landscape altogether.  All traditional businesses across sectors have been touched with fundamental changes or disruption, and not merely globalization.

 With the proliferation of market networks, consultants, today understand they have to constantly adapt, accept, address and reshape themselves in order stay relevant and serve industries that are rapidly transforming.  Customers are also getting more demanding by the day.  Collaboration and expansion of strategic partnerships across market networks in consulting business will provide innovative solutions and increased satisfaction of all stakeholders concerned.

About the Author:

The author is Founder, Ideapoke, a company that enables organizations to solve business problems by crowdsourcing from global sources.

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