Next Generation Solutions-Based Consulting
BY NAIMA HOQUE ESSING, ALM INTELLIGENCE MANAGEMENT CONSULTING RESEARCH
T hese are exciting but challenging times for con- sulting. Gone are days of smart people giving ad- vice. Clients today want solutions that provide new positive and secure digital experiences for their
customers, employees and suppliers. In an environment
where new entrants without legacy assets are capitalizing on new technologies to leapfrog established market
participants, incumbents are looking to consultants for
solutions to become more innovative and responsive to
changing customer needs driven by disruptive technologies, all while maintaining their existing businesses.
While company management teams may have the
desire and even the mandate for change, they often
lack the leadership skills, resources, technical knowledge and supporting culture to translate ambiguous
objectives like “we need to be more innovative” into
a concrete vision and plan to move forward.
Companies are looking to partner with consultants to
lead, inspire, coach and support innovation in developing
solutions that ensure their products, operations and business models remain competitive in a rapidly changing marketplace. As a result, the business of consulting is evolving
into client partnerships in developing and delivering solutions that embrace new technology and the analytical methods they enable to drive measurable positive outcomes.
Solution-driven consulting necessitates a radical
change in engagement models. New models include
the adoption of creative physical spaces, ecosystems of
trusted partners and a broader, multi-disciplinary approach to engaging with client in conceiving, creating
and delivering new products, services and solutions.
Consulting client engagement models include:
Co-Development—Firms are investing in creative
offsite physical spaces where they can bring together
multiple perspectives and capabilities to support clients
through their innovation journey from ideation to market
launch and scaling of new products, services or solutions.
Off sites create a safe environment to bring together the
right combination of expertise at the right time to move
projects forward using a multi-disciplinary approach that,
for example, offers customer insights to determine valued
features, design thinking to ensure inclusion of valued
features into prototypes, and agile methods to iteratively
test new concepts and designs.
Orchestration of Partner Ecosystems—While service
providers aspire to do it all, no firm, no matter how large,
has the full breadth and depth of capabilities to go it alone.
They are best off in focusing on what they do best internal-
ly and be able to call on an external ecosystem of trusted
partners for best of breed technical expertise or solutions.
Consultants are increasingly taking on an orchestration
or matchmaking role, sitting between their knowledge of
clients’ business needs and vendor capabilities and solu-
tions. Preexisting partner relationships with pre-negotiated
ways of working help to avoid common pitfalls and accel-
erate solution development and delivery in an environment
where companies place a premium on speed to market.
Co-investment—While consultants typically work
solely on behalf of the client who ultimately pays for
and own developed solutions, it is increasingly com-
mon for firms to combine resources and share the risk
and reward of new co-developed solutions with their
clients. With skin in the game, consultants typically
take on a more active role in decision-making and re-
tain rights to the underlying intellectual property.
Start-up incubation—Combing their knowledge of
emerging business issues and technologies, many consult-
ing firms are active in identifying and supporting start-up
companies that address white space opportunities. Sup-
port may derive from funding, physical space, advice and
expertise but also access to their client networks to chan-
nel activities toward high-value opportunities and scale
solutions toward independent commercial viability.
Platform solutions—With little desire to recreate
the wheel, many firms are standardizing their toolbox
of developed industry- and functional-specific solutions
on a common technology platform. Go-to-market strat-
egies now often lead with pre-or semi-configured solu-
tions to common business issues to win business and
accelerate time to outcome realization. Product manag-
ers work alongside client engagement partners to iden-
tify opportunities and sell solutions outright or through
managed service agreements that necessitate the hiring
and training of ongoing product support staff.