Can we have management consulting firm with no employees ?!!
“Could it be possible that in 10 years, the largest professional services company will have no employees?”
This is quite an interesting question posed by a key leader of a major organization in a recent article.
The hypothesis is based on trends in some of the other industries (Uber, Airbnb etc). Now, because it happened in some other industries does not mean consulting is in danger of following suit. But then, how can we be so sure? Stranger things have happened and continue to happen in this digital-age!!
If you look at consulting business model's close cousin (i.e. legal services), this prediction is no longer far-fetched (Read the story about the meteoric rise of NewLaw here. In fact, a close study of developments in the legal services industry and comparing it with early trends within the consulting industry only further supports the fact that the 100-year-old consulting model is past the tipping point of disruption.
While we see significant activity in the consulting space (new business models, Services as a Product offering, 'Assetization' of knowledge etc), we expect that the pace of model transformation will become more exponential after 2-3 years. In 2-3 years, we expect that clients buying behavior will undergo quantum shift (a shift of demand curve) as they get more comfortable and come to trust the alternative approaches (we see this happen in legal services vis-a-via "NewLaw" but remember that it took some time to reach that growth "take-off" point).
Given the above, it simply does not matter whether in 10 years the largest consulting firm will have employees or not...what's certain is that the business operating model of the largest consulting firm decade from now will certainly be dramatically different from the current paradigm. Here are a couple of pieces that I do suggest reading on this from our portal:
Consulting Disruption: The Case for On-Demand Talent Platforms (This provides great context around different models currently existing that includes firms with employees and those without!).
More on the "future" operating model and recipe for success in my next article. Before we gaze into the future, important to lean back and understand how we got here, what are the current trends impacting the industry, what are the areas of opportunities and why we should even entertain the question if in 10 years there is a possibility of the largest consulting firm that has no employees.
Here is a video we put together that summarizes our extensive research (that includes feedback from clients, a study of disruptive trends in related sectors, views of experts etc...). We tried to boil it all down to less than 2 minutes!
Tell us what you think! Do you agree, what are your thoughts?