Top UK business leaders say digital and technology challenges will be the number one priority

Digital and technology advice and business transformation and strategy advisory are the key priorities UK business leaders say they will most need most help from consultants on in the future according to a new survey conducted by the MCA, the Management Consultancies Association. The independent survey of 250 UK industry decision makers across the public and private sector was commissioned by the MCA, the trade association for the leading consultancy firms in the UK and conducted by VIGA, a global research company. The study looks at how private and public sector leaders use and rate consulting services. The survey found that use of consultants was widespread across large and small companies[1]with 84% of businesses polled confirming they used consulting services and 81% of respondents saying consultants had met or exceeded expectations[2]. Use of consultants was relatively even across company size – highest use was in the Financial services, Life Sciences and health sectors and lowest use was in Transportation and Government and in the public sectors.[3]The survey assesses the differences in what kind of businesses need most external help in key areas in both the private and public sector.

The sectors that stated that they needed most help from external consulting services with digital and technology advisory knowledge were the Manufacturing sectors (42%) and Digital and Technology (41%) sectors. Concerns over digital deployment also featured highly within the Financial Services as well as within the Retail and Leisure sector.[4]

Efficiency emerged as the top most important current business challenge across the public and private sector, followed by Brexit, digital deployment and dealing with disruption from AI and automation. 65% of Government & Public Sector leaders cited efficiency as the leading business challenge, followed by Recruitment & Retention, Productivity, Digital deployment, dealing with AI and tech and then finally Brexit. In contrast more than half of Financial Services and Manufacturing leaders saw Brexit as the leading future business challenge.[5] The results of the survey show consultants are valued most when they deliver forward looking external help like transformational support, knowledge transfer, efficiency and support with digital challenges. In the public sector consultants are valued most when they provide independent thinking and transformational outcomes. In a key positive result for the industry, 81% of respondents stated that in their experience consultants had met or exceeded their expectations. Additionally, more than half of respondents have consistently had their expectations exceeded or substantially exceeded.

Tamzen Isacsson, CEO of MCA, said:

“We’re encouraged by the feedback from business leaders about the value of consulting to organisations across the public and private sector, and believe our member firms are well equipped to assist businesses with the challenges of digital and technology upheavals in the future. Brexit is, of course, of critical concern to many businesses across the UK, but, as this study shows, there are many other pressing business issues that companies need to focus on to remain competitive and grow. It’s vitally important that businesses get certainty as soon as possible this month on our future relationship with Europe so they can plan and prepare for Brexit and then get on with the important job of improving the efficiency of their organisations.”

Steven Scott, Senior Vice President at VIGA, said:

“The findings of the study point towards a great deal of client satisfaction in consulting across a number of key business verticals in the UK. Not only does the data highlight the value and impact being driven across industries today, but also helps to illuminate emerging needs across leading UK organisations in the near future. It’s clear from our research that consultants will continue to play a key role in designing and transforming the future of UK business.”

Focusing on the enterprise level of businesses, there is a large emphasis on business transformation needs for consultative support and a much higher percentage of respondents acknowledging the need for help with change management – an area that presents a much bigger issue the larger your business becomes. In the Government & Public Sector segment, the biggest needs are business transformation, change management, and digital & technology advisory. Among the smallest organisations, the biggest needs are business transformation, quality management, and risk management.

For non-users of consulting services (16%), the bulk of respondents indicated that their organisations have refrained from using consulting services due to budgetary restraints and/or because they have an existing in-house solution. Very few respondents indicated that there are perceived gaps in the consulting services (96% no gaps, 4% yes) offered in relation to their needs when engaging consulting firms. This demonstrates that management Consultancies are largely keeping up with changes in the workforce, technology, and other disruptive forces.


To download the Survey results and graphs please visit: 

Dropbox link –

Media Contact:

George Tresnan

Marketing and Communications Manager

Management Consultancies Association


Tel: 0207 645 7953


The Management Consultancies Association (MCA):

The MCA is the representative body for the UK’s leading management consulting firms. For over 60 years, the MCA has been the voice of the consulting industry, promoting the value of consulting to business, the public sector, media commentators and the general public. The MCA’s mission is to promote the value of management consultancy for the economy and society as a whole. The MCA’s member companies comprise over 60% of the UK consulting industry, employ around 45,000 consultants and work with over 90 of the top FTSE 100 companies and almost all parts of the public sector. The UK consulting industry is amongst the best in the world and a vital part of the business landscape. Click to see the full list of current MCA memberssee link.

Compliance with the MCA’s tough entry criteria and adherence to the principles of Consulting Excellence means that MCA member companies are widely acknowledged to provide high quality services to their clients. Many of their achievements are recognised in the annual MCA Awards.


[1]Small defined as less than 250 full time employees, and large as greater than 250 full time employees.

[2]Client Perceptions of Consulting Study 2018, see slides 4 and 11 respectively.

[3]100% of polled respondents in Financial Services and Private Health & Life Sciences verticals indicated that their organisations have used consulting services. 75% of respondents in the Government & Public Sector space indicated use, followed by 71% in the transportation vertical. See slide 4 in attached press summary.

[4]Client Perceptions of Consulting Study 2018; industry breakout for question: Types of Business Needs Where Consulting Services Are Necessary (see slide 7 in attached press summary for reference); Financial Services: 38%, and Retail & Leisure: 35%.

[5]Client Perceptions of Consulting Study 2018; industry breakout for question: What are your emerging business challenges? Financial Services: 54%, Manufacturing: 53%. See slide 12 in attached press summary.