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Global consulting spend set to rise but consultants are trapped in the back office
 
 The most comprehensive
report ever conducted
into clients’ use of
management consultants
has found that almost
half (49%) of consulting
clients¹ expect their
spend on consultants to
increase in 2013, with a
quarter expecting double
digit percentage
increases. In
particular, companies
operating in the energy
and natural resources
sector are expecting to
call on the services of
consultants, with a
tenth expecting their
spend to rise sharply.
  
   The report, published
by Source Information
Services (Source), is
based on surveys and
interviews with around
800 senior users and
buyers of consulting
services² from Europe,
the Middle East and the
US. Source claims that
the report is one of the
most positive readings
of the market it has
taken since 2007,
suggesting that there is
genuine cause for
optimism, with only 16%
of those surveyed
expecting a fall in
spend.
  
   Cost-reduction
remains a very
significant focus for
many clients – 87% said
they expect to engage in
cost-related initiatives
over the course of 2013
 
 and many expect to turn
to consultants as they
do. Very close behind is
a focus on growth – 86%
said they had growth
initiatives planned for
2013 – but many expect
consultants to support
growth initiatives from
the back office rather
than lead them from the
front office.
  
   Fiona Czerniawska,
co-founder of Source,
explained: “Our research
suggests that the growth
agenda continues to
gather momentum among
clients. Keen though
they may still be to
keep a firm lid on
costs, growth is now an
imperative for most.
This represents one of
the biggest
opportunities for
consulting firms at the
moment, but for many it
will manifest itself as
demand for more
traditional back office
consulting around
technology, for
instance, or
operations.”
  
   Czerniawska
continued: “Far fewer
consulting firms will
find themselves
well-positioned to work
alongside clients in the
front office, on more
traditional
growth-related
activities like
marketing and sales. To
some extent this is
 
  
   
 
 
 
 
 driven by the need to
replace increasingly
obsolescent systems.
Elsewhere, more
specialist advice is
being sought in areas
such as cloud computing
where the IT and
telecoms service
providers lack the
consulting skills to
articulate and adapt
their proposition, and
the ability to discuss
technology issues with
functional heads outside
the IT department.
  
   The report also says
that the use of
technology consultants
is increasingly not
confined to the chief
information officer
(CIO). It says that as
bring-your-own-device
initiatives and data
analytics begin to play
an increasing role,
other functional heads
may be planning to
increase the amount they
spend on technology
consulting, albeit from
a lower starting point.
For instance, chief
human resources officers
(CHROs) and chief
operating officers
(COOs) foresee a rapid
rise in their
expenditure in this
area; by contrast, CIOs
expect small increases
topping up the status
quo. One CIO in the
services sector
commented: “Big data and
analytics are important
 
 subjects for us and we
will need consultants in
this field in the
future.”
  
   Operational
improvement and strategy
consulting

  
   Demand for
operational improvement
consulting also looks
set to grow faster than
average in 2013, with
54% of end users
expecting expenditure in
this area to increase.
Strategy consulting will
also grow in 2013 but at
a slightly lower rate
than the market average.
Source says that the
immediate focus here
will be efficiency, but
growth is never far from
thought. However, in
stark contrast there is
less growth in demand
for advice on financial
management and control.
  
   Czerniawska
concluded: “The need to
improve technology,
increase sales and
reduce expenditure
continues to drive a lot
of organisational
activity and expenditure
on consultants, but
there’s lower than
average willingness to
use consultants to
respond to risk, change
culture and particularly
implement existing
plans.”
 
 about consultants being
victims of their own
success in the back
office, but the reality
is that many have shot
themselves in the foot
here: failing to spot
the need to update their
thinking about the ways
in which organisations
can grow. Whichever way,
we suspect there’s a
much bigger opportunity
which may go begging as
a result.”
  
   Technology
consulting under
demand

  
   In overall terms
technology consulting
looks set to enjoy the
strongest growth.
Organisations surveyed
stated they are four
times as likely to
expect their use of
consultants on
technology projects to
increase, as decrease.
Only 14% of the
organisations surveyed
said their expenditure
in this area will fall –
compared to 56% who
thought it would grow.
  
   Opportunities still
exist in the buoyant
energy and natural
resources sector for
conventional,
large-scale IT projects,
 
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