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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
 
  
   
 
 
 
 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, driven by
the need to replace