Management Consulting Firms & eLearning Agencies - A Perfect Partnership?
The growth of the management consultancy industry is expected to continue unabated, with revenues expecting to reach $344B by 2025.
But as recent events have demonstrated, expectations are a thing that are frequently subject to the vagaries of life.
Even looking past the effects of a global pandemic, there are a number of other key areas that will almost certainly impact the nature of how traditional management consultancy firms will operate and earn money, in the future.
In this article, we explore 5 of these areas of change and show how the addition of eLearning expertise to the management consultancy service offering could help unlock new opportunities.
Management Consultancy has traditionally been behind the adoption curve of technology, especially when compared to industries such as healthcare, marketing or even banking. This may be due to a number of factors.
The industry has traditionally operated on a value-based fee strategy where the value of the consultant is paramount, as opposed to a service-led pricing model. This means that adoption and familiarity of the latest digital strategies, such as Big Data and business automation processes are subject to individual expertise and has traditionally not been a fixture in the wheelhouse of the bigger firms.
There is clearly a growing need for change in this area. Increasing competitive pressures and as well as client’s requests for expertise means that management consultancy firms are having to pivot into new areas of expertise, either by upskilling or acquisitions.
And this is where the expertise of eLearning agencies could pay rich dividends. Online education is the current zeitgeist. Organisations across all sectors and geographies are having to embrace new ways of conducting training, learning and also the delivery of company messaging.
Partnerships with these agencies could provide access to an area of expertise that clients are desperate for. It also underlines a consultancy’s image as an organisation that embraces digital transformation technologies and helps clients navigate change in uncertain times.
2. Increase in competition
The big management consultancy firms no longer have a monopoly on the provision of consulting services. Increased competition from smaller, boutique organisations has resulted from them being able to offer unique alternatives to traditional consultancies. These more nimble players also gained access to the same industry information that was once the privilege of larger operations due to the relative cost of research, before technology levelled the playing field.
There is also the appeal of the smaller consultancies to the smaller clients. Often with a closer cultural match, similar strategic outlook and also greater appetite from the consultancy to provide high-value niche services, such as digital consultancy, entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship strategies or the adoption of niche technologies such as Blockchain into the operating processes.
Clients of niche consultancies are also able to choose from a menu of ‘a-la-carte’ services, with competitive, service-led pricing models for a suite of offerings that may be rapidly deployed to suit the current needs.
However, this increase in competition and need to diversify away from the traditional services means that there are new opportunities too for management consultancy firms of all sizes.
eLearning agencies are perfectly positioned to assist with service differentiation. Many of them are used to working to extremely tight deadlines, rolling out world-class learning solutions to clients of all sizes. Collaboration with these agencies that provide online learning solutions adds a high-value, strategically important and much-needed service offering to the staple-offering of management consultancy firms of all sizes.
3. Increase in value-based strategies
The uncertainty of the market, together with the increase in consultant job-mobility has led to a shift towards value-based strategies, rather than a service-led approach that many of the consultancies follow.
So while there is a clear need for specific services to be provided on an ‘as-needed’ basis by the firms themselves, the need for clients to follow the advice of trusted advisors is also something that will continue to be called for.
The ability of the advisor to increase his or her value to the client is therefore of obvious importance. And in an increasingly competitive market, the addition of service offerings that differentiate the value proposition will be key.
Knowledge of niche services that have strategic value for the client, such as business automation, electronic payment methodologies or effective stakeholder engagement strategies, will set the consultant and therefore consultancy apart.
eLearning strategy is an area that has held the niche ground for some time. In light of recent global events, however, the ability to effectively onboard, train, upskill or communicate internally has been severely challenged, pushing eLearning into the limelight and making it a hot topic across all areas of the client business.
This gives management consultants a great opportunity to offer value with a proposition that touches all parts of an organisation. Partnering with an eLearning agency and providing the benefits of a company-wide Learning & Development strategy offers high value at a time when this service is needed most, as well as the ability to forge closer links with client touch-points across the organisation.
4. Changes in Legislation
Legislation changes in areas such as the UK as a result of Brexit or in the US, with amendments to intellectual property rulings, or liability insurance coverage, has thrown the spotlight on the need for management consultancy firms to bolster their compliance, legal and cybersecurity capabilities.
The need for firms to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to advise clients on crucial aspects of legislation in specific areas is an obvious one, but something that is less considered is the requirement for these changes to be communicated properly and in a timely and effective manner.
The rollout of an effective communication programme is something that would have sat traditionally within the remit of the Marketing Communications or the Learning & Development team. Recent global events, however, have limited the ability of these teams to roll out effective programmes, especially if those programmes relied on them being delivered in a live, face-to-face environment.
Partnering with an eLearning agency that can assist in the development and delivery of effective learning programmes could be a crucial step in assisting clients with the delivery of messaging and training around the frequent legislation changes mentioned above.
5. Increasing collaboration
The need for increased collaboration is a running theme and one that has become much more commonplace in recent years. Consultancies of all sizes have found themselves entering into partnerships that have replaced the more traditional in-house approach or fully-outsourced service-models.
This ties in with many of the points mentioned above and mirrors the needs of clients who seek the benefits of increasingly specialised services, as well as consultancies which aim to fulfil these needs at the lowest cost to them. This means that collaboration with specialists providing the service offers a solution that is available immediately and without the need to upskill and provision internal resources.
The current and ongoing client need for alternative training solutions is a real and pressing requirement. And the broader company-wide need to review learning and development strategies resulting from global change means that collaborating with eLearning agencies is a step that could unlock new opportunities for management consultancies.
What’s your view? Do you see this playing out in your world?
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any thoughts or questions around this topic.