‘Consulting is a barometer for the state of the wider economy’

James Rodger, Regional Leader for UK and Ireland at BearingPoint, says 2015 has been a very positive year for the firm.

“It’s been a year of growth. We’ve seen that right across the industry sectors we work in, especially with key clients, in financial services, automotive and telco and media.” In common with many participants in the MCA’s Year of Digital, James confirms that Digital transformation is a key growth area in consulting services. “This takes two forms: supporting the Digital strategy and its technological requirements; and examining the transformation implications of Digital from the perspective of business model, people and processes.”

James also links Digital’s growth to BearingPoint’s strategy of ‘asset-based consulting’. The firm leverages proprietary software assets and accelerators to support clients in driving business value. James argues that this is additional consulting value, rather than consulting being disintermediated. “Our R6 solution lets clients manage and orchestrate their Digital ecosystem whilst our Hypercube analytical tool supports Big Data analytics. These are augmentations of our core consulting propositions to clients, enabling faster delivery within a wider Digital transformation programme.”

BearingPoint has also seen an uplift in its work in operational performance improvement. James links both this and Digital to clients’ immediate needs and future outlook as the economy returns to growth. “Clients right across the board want to improve customer experience, achieve operational efficiencies, address the challenges of new entrants, take advantage of new business models, and capitalise on their existing markets. These are essential to growth and we’re helping provide them.”

Indeed James argues that support of this kind is the essence of consulting’s own contribution to growth. “Consulting’s direct impact on growth is found in helping firms mobilise new propositions and products, such as in our MCA Award-winning Connected Car project with Jaguar Land Rover.

“This is complemented by equally important indirect contributions. In helping businesses rise to the Digital challenge, both longstanding incumbents and new entrants, we are futureproofing their businesses. Improved efficiency and better customer interactions should drive loyalty and revenues. Part of this for existing enterprises is about how they respond to disruption. If they embrace it, potentially by becoming disruptors themselves, reinventing their business models, or partnering with emerging players, they will do well. We’re ideally placed to support them.”

Consulting’s own responses to Digital innovation and the demands of growth matter too, especially in the context of the war for talent. “Finding the right people in traditional consulting is challenging enough at the moment. Finding Digital talent and the capabilities needed for asset-based solutions brings its own challenges – for instance expanding the range of competitors for recruits. Here the trick is a mix of differentiation and partnering. We focus specifically on Digital’s transformation dimensions: the business, rather than the creative agency aspects of Digital. But where required we also partner actively with other parts of the value chain. This helps secure rounded solutions for clients. Partnering, a traditional consulting skill, will play an increasingly important part in years to come.”

Looking ahead, James sees client behaviours as the basis for cautious optimism. “Consulting is a barometer for the state of the wider economy. That we are doing well at the moment – and doing so by helping clients address strategic growth challenges – is a good thing and feels promising for the wider economic outlook.”