Five consulting trends to watch in 2022

Five consulting trends to watch in 2022

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1. Bridging the gap

With an increased sense of possibility bumping up against the same old pre-pandemic frustrations, it’s clear the gap between what organisations want to do and what they can do in practice is wider than ever.  No wonder, then, that transformation—the means to close that gap—is on every client’s lips and is creating 

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1. Bridging the gap

significant, new opportunities for consulting firms.  Although two-thirds of clients say they’ll be making substantial investments in digital transformation, almost half plan transformational changes in their approach to sustainability, their target operating model, and/or their organisational structure.

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2. Expertise and the skills shortage

Even before “the great resignation”, in 2019 clients were complaining about a shortage of staff; now, 38% of clients say they don’t have enough people with the skills they need, and 26% claim to lack the capacity to get things done.  More than a quarter of clients say that the main reason they’re increasingly turning to

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2. Expertise and the skills shortage

consulting firms is that they have more work to do, and a fifth that it’s because they have to get work done more quickly. To make matters worse, the pandemic has made clients far more conscious of the value deep expertise can bring. The speed with which clients have had to react over the last two years has left no space for people to learn on the job or to 

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2. Expertise and the skills shortage

get up to speed. Experts are important because they can diagnose issues quickly and know what needs to happen.

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3. Innovation and multidisciplinary working

Thirty-nine percent of clients think that a permanent legacy of the pandemic will be the ability to make change happen more quickly; 26% see a legacy of better, more radical solutions to business issues. But both outcomes depend on finding new ways to work. Alongside expertise, brand, and the ability to implement, innovation remains one of 

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3. Innovation and multidisciplinary working

consulting firm attributes that matters most to clients.  But clients recognise that innovation, in turn, relies on bringing together people with different perspectives. Meanwhile, effective multidisciplinary work remains a challenge for consulting firms, however. Although clients are more positive about 

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3. Innovation and multidisciplinary working

consulting firms’ ability to innovate now than they were a year ago, they still see innovation as a relative weakness (only their views about fee rates are more negative).

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4. Making technology work

Consulting firms have always struggled to get the equilibrium clients are looking for between business and technology, but our research suggests things are changing.  Technology firms continue to be regarded as authorities on technology, but some of the biggest improvements in clients’ perceptions of the quality across all firms this year 

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4. Making technology work

have been in areas such as robotic process automation and AI.

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5. Social value

Our research has consistently highlighted a gap between positive perceptions of the quality of work consultants do and the value they add to clients in practice.  Our most recent data is no exception, with 80% of clients having positive views about quality and 41% about value. At the same time, consulting firms are investing unprecedented 

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5. Social value

time, effort, and money in honing and promoting their social purpose. 2022 will, we think, be the year when these two issues—value and social purpose—converge: consulting firms will need to demonstrate that their purpose has a concrete economic and social impact in practice.

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