Consulting® APRIL 2017 21
deliver a stream of contextual and relevant services.
To achieve this, our clients will need an instantaneous, endless transfer of data, housed in a limitless, unified space, that can be continuously mined and used
to create and deliver truly personalized experiences.
This degree of customer service requires transformation across the board.
To succeed and grow in this explosive environment, all businesses—our clients and ourselves—
need to embrace change; to our business models, and
to how we’ll employ technology to deliver results.
Data transformation, cloud innovation, process re-in-vention, digitization, and the application of cognitive
analytics to achieve once unimaginable goals, is just
the beginning of the journey.
It begins with a unified sea of data, and for most
complex organizations, that alone is a grand goal.
Unlike new entrants, who build their foundations
around the value of data, most of our clients will need
to break down walls and challenge traditional approaches, to get to the holistic customer view they’ll
need to compete - and to collaborate. Understanding
and adopting FinTech approaches in using emergent
technologies to provide more pleasing engagements
will be key. The ability to partner, crucial.
The cheap lean infrastructure of leading tech start-ups also means that our clients will have to streamline
operations to compete with businesses built on the technologies of today. They will have to remove costly, repetitive processes requiring human touch that can be
radically reduced using revolutionary robotics, automation, cognitive and blockchain technologies. The extent
to which an organization embraces this transformation will determine its ability to cut costs and plug into
emerging innovation in an eco-sea of partners. And of
course our clients will have to deliver an exceptional
interactive user experience spanning whatever digital,
chat and natural language channels are desired by the
increasingly demanding customer of tomorrow.
Supporting our clients in their transformation to-
ward customer concentricity and helping them stream-
line their businesses will not be enough. The consult-
ant of tomorrow will be a broker of talent, a doer, a
participant in the industry rather than a consultant to
it. The eco-system economy is here to stay and those
that don’t know how to exist and prosper within it will
be gone, consultant or client. By 2020, in excess of 75
percent of ideas, talent and innovation will be sourced
through eco-systems of engagement, which will fun-
damentally change the way our clients work, and the
way consultants work with their clients.
Bringing together a web of providers to bring cus-
tomers superior service sounds great, but the truth is this
approach introduces a cast of characters and a myriad of
technology that has to be carefully managed to produce
desired results. In this eco-sea of partners, the consult-
ant becomes principle conductor of an extremely com-
plex orchestra. Consultants of the future will have to be
experts on emerging start-ups and stay in front of the
technology interfaces necessary to plug into pools of in-
novation, pertinent to thrive in the new API economy.
And let’s not forget about employing emerging
technologies to disrupt our own industry. In the next
several years we will work to eradicate many of the entry level research, analysis and finance modeling processes we presently execute for clients, using digital
and cognitive technologies. Leading consultancies will
actively employ breaking edge technologies to eliminate non-value added processes in their own offerings
and return economic advantages back to clients. Consultants at all levels will have to spend more of their
time innovating with new technologies to help clients
drive revenue and cut costs continuously.
And most important will be the change in people.
Consultancies will have to address that the way people
like to work is changing and will have to change along
with it. Numbers show that 35 perent of the total U.S.
workforce choose to work as freelancers. Consultancies have to build new models that will require significant gain in the speed and agility needed to identify,
source skilled workers, as well as stay abreast of the
technologies, like VR, available to bring them together. Consultants of tomorrow will need deep content.
They’ll have to not only profoundly understand their
industry, but also how technology is going to change it.
Generalist consulting will become a commodity product. Welcome to the Gig Economy.
Ismail Amla is Managing Partner, IBM Global Business Services,
North America, IBM’s professional services division and the
world’s largest consulting organization. In this capacity, Amla
sets the strategic direction of the GBS team—the first cognitive
consulting practice—as it engages with corporations, government agencies and educational institutions.