As the analyst behind ALM’s research on talent and leadership consulting, I am always on the lookout for signs of market consolidation, new
approaches to service delivery, and other such developments. The crop of consultancies that I follow never disappoint. No matter how often I think things really can’t
change that much from one year to the next, a whole
new picture emerges from my conversations with consultants and their clients that proves me wrong. This is a
very dynamic market and I see two forces transforming
The first is a fundamental change in the nature of talent
management. What was once an annual planning exercise supporting the upward movement of people through
an organization is now a continuous cycle of experimentation focused on calibrating the employee experience.
This is made more complex by the fact that many organizations are designed around different types of operating
models, each influencing the employee experience differently. There’s no one-size-fits-all employee experience
for companies providing a mix of products and services
to consumers, businesses, and sometimes both.
The second force for change reflects a broader market
shift from thinking about the future of work to taking action. Anxiety about the talent implications of Industry 4.0
had been building for years, compounded by media hype
and a rapidly changing ecosystem of new technologies
whose very acronyms defied an intuitive understanding
of their purpose. AI, RPA, NLP, VR. Say what?
I credit consultants with helping business leaders understand how these technologies enable new ways of
working that amplify, rather than replace the human value of labor. Their efforts at developing ‘future of work’
perspectives, scenario planning workshops, design think-ing-led ideation sessions, and innovation laboratories
succeeded at stimulating clients’ imaginations. Incorporating big data and predictive analytics provided a type of
grounding that directed these sessions towards mapping
action plans, quantifying strategies, and more. At last, clients felt they had a process that afforded some control.
The combined effect of a more sophisticated clientele
focused on actively future-proofing their organization
through talent management and leadership development
is changing what it takes for consultants to help their cli-
ents. The demand is for nothing less than total transfor-
mation of the talent management function.
At nearly 15 years old, talent management is a relatively young discipline that has nonetheless evolved into
a fragmented collection of overly complicated processes
designed for top-down control. Hand-offs across talent
functions such as recruiting and onboarding are often inefficient, let alone hand-offs across the corporate functions that feed the employee experience.
Consulting providers bring a whole-systems perspective to transforming talent management strategies, operations, and digital infrastructures. They advise on the
impact of HR operating model design on talent operations, build chatbots to augment and accelerate the delivery of talent services, and offer integrated platforms
of digital tools and data. They deliver point solutions
capable of maturing as the client progresses from a siloed to integrated talent system, often in sync with preconfigured HR cloud platforms.
Nothing justifies a transformation approach to talent
management more than the merging of talent management with workforce management in the past few years
and their alignment to corporate strategy. Both functions
require a broad and deep knowledge of employees’ skills,
experience, and credentials beyond their current job role
for multiple purposes, such as learning development programs aimed at workforce reskilling.
The leading providers are helping clients strengthen
this connection in several ways. They are going to market with holistic frameworks that clarify how workforce
and talent strategies are mutually reinforcing; building
integrated technology- and data-enabled platforms that
bridge strategic workforce planning with talent processes; and shifting the focus of global mobility programs
from managing rewards and relocation services towards
the employee experience and leadership development.
For more or to obtain the full version of The ALM
Vanguard: Talent and Leadership Consulting 2019, visit:
Consultants Transform Talent Management
BY LIZ DEVITO, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, MANAGEMENT CONSULTING RESEARCH