As 2018 gets underway there are already some key themes emerging when contemplating both client and candidate comments made so far this year. These can broadly be split into two camps - relating to industry and relating to consulting - and are as follows:
There is a continued and constant demand for the in-house hiring of consulting talent, particularly into strategy and transformation roles, and particularly in the larger financial services, retail, and TMT players. Key themes driving this demand are: the rise of new players (think nbn to Telstra, The Iconic to Myer), the continued push to digitisation (think self-service rather than human processing), disruption (think Society One to big banks), legislative change (think banking royal commission), pressure on results in a low growth environment (think offshoring, partnerships and cost-out initiatives), to name a few.
There will be an increase in role diversification for consulting talent, driven by former consultants now moving into functional leadership roles, such as Chief Marketing Officer, and the types of roles technology companies, such as Uber and Amazon, hire consulting talent to do.
Talent continues to express a preference for small and mid-sized companies, where they can be closer to the action and driving results in compressed timelines with less bureaucracy to wade through. Conversely, it is therefore getting harder to convince talent that larger companies are attractive, unless an individual is prioritising elements like salary, breadth and depth of career options, and balance, above others.
The gig economy continues to rise, becoming an increasingly acceptable path for the short-term, perhaps driven by the desire to make more money to buy a house or selffund an MBA, or the flexibility to travel when desired. Some individuals also now see this as a long-term option, removing you from the politics and corporate expectations that go with being an employee.
Tier 1 firms are increasingly undertaking longer duration work. As we firmly sit in a low-growth environment, other than perhaps the hyper-growth technology pin-ups we so frequently see, company leaders are turning to their tier-1 trusted advisors to undertake long-tail cost-out work. In turn this is leading to a frustrated generation of tier-1 consultants who signed up to undertake strategy projects but are not seeing these projects come their way.
M&A deals will slow, unless we see a global deal. Both 2016 and 2017 witnessed lots of small and mid-sized local consulting firms being acquired by major brands, meaning few firms are left to buy, unless we see a major global deal, such as when PwC bought Booz & Company.
The rise of the boutique. Given the big are getting bigger this leaves lots of pockets and slices for the consulting boutique to go after. Expect to see new consulting firms popping up through 2018, businesses that endeavour to own a slice of the market, either by location, industry, or functional expertise.