The global consulting market has witnessed phenomenal growth over the past couple of decades. And that is because of the increasing need for assistance across such diverse niches as healthcare, business operations, financial services, and many more. Moreover, North America which accounts for nearly half (44.5%) of the global consulting market, generated around $78.7 billion in 2019 followed by Europe which accounted for $45 billion.
One study estimates that by 2020, 40% of the American workforce (a.k.a. 60 million people) will be freelance or contract workers. And that means, without a doubt, some big changes in what companies will be looking for in their consultants.
Another major change that’s impacting the consulting industry is the ease in which people can find valuable information virtually. Communities have sprung up on the internet that tailor to professional development in every field. Much of the insight that was being provided by consultants in the past. But now you can access it on your phone or computer with just a few button presses – and most importantly, at no cost.
The COVID-19 Spectre – How Global Consulting Industry Fared During The Pandemic?
The COVID-19 outbreak brought the global economy to a standstill. And had far-reaching consequences that were felt across all industries. The consulting industry is no exception to that. While hard to estimate, researchers try to come up with a number for the knock-on effect on the consulting industry. And they predicted that the industry could lose up to $30 billion in revenue in 2020. Undoubtedly, the magnitude of the disaster looked almost certain to cause a recession in the near future.
Trends That Will Shape The Future of Global Online Consulting Industry
The pandemic shaped the consulting industry trends moving into 2021. And we can see a dynamic shift towards virtualization, digital disruption, and flexible & personalized offering to businesses. Let’s discuss the key trends that are set to shape the consulting industry post-pandemic.
1. Greater Emphasis On Tangible Outcomes: The businesses seeking consultation in the post-pandemic era will anticipate quantifiable results. There will be an expectation from business consultants to eliminate the expensive diagnosis. And implement cost-effective solutions. They will also make sure that their strategies and operational realities go hand in hand.
2. Personalized Consulting: Since all businesses have different requirements, they are no more looking for off-the-shelf solutions. Which are not specific to their business’s needs. Business consultants are now expected to eliminate the one size fits all model. And they should also know the operational insights of the business. This will facilitate them to bring adapted services to the table that meet the industry, functional, and client context.
3. Remote Consultation Over In-Person Consultation Visits: Working with businesses via remote consulting became the modus operandi in the post-pandemic world. This led to the widespread usage of virtual consulting platforms. Fast-tracking virtual consulting platforms can deliver the same outcomes as traditional consulting. And are going to remain strong in this new era.
4. Long-Term And Deeper Involvement In Business Operations: Consultants in the past would leave once they’d offered their services and seen them implemented in a business. However, clients now expect full involvement from the consultants. Also, get deeper insights as well as share the risk of implemented solutions. Consultants are required to build value-oriented business models instead of gearing towards quick wins and chasing new opportunities.
Online Consulting Platforms Have Made It Easier to Find Independent Consultants
Back in the day, the consulting industry was dominated by large consulting firms. And just because expert advice existed doesn’t mean everyone could access it. Usually, it was the large or well-established companies that had the privilege of hiring consultants.
Fast forward to 2020, online consulting platforms have turned the tables and made top consultants more accessible to all businesses – small or large.
The process of hiring a consultant from an online consulting platform is very simple. Companies can have a confidential chat with a representative of these freelance platforms and state their requirements. Then, the freelance consulting platform’s representative sends profiles of handpicked independent consultants to the company. Businesses can go through the profiles of highly skilled consultants and select the best one for their project.
Imagine this: Businesses can now hire people who have worked for Fortune 500 companies like Google and Facebook very easily. The knowledge and skill sets these independent consultants can bring to a company, without making them spend half of their human resource budget on them, is really commendable.
How are Consultants benefiting from the rise of Consulting Platforms
One of the very common reasons why some consultants leave big consulting firms to become freelancers is to avoid the ‘up or out’ system that a lot of consulting firms have. Indeed, things can get extremely competitive. Not to mention the organizational bureaucracy that might hold back a lot of gifted and talented consultants. Going freelance has a lot of benefits. And the ability to take on big projects without bureaucratic hindrance is one of them – something which is almost impossible when working as an employee for another company.
Furthermore, the online consulting marketplace has made it easier for consultants to find more clients. Consultants don’t always have to scour through their professional network to get new work. A lot of times, companies use the online consulting marketplace and approach them on their own.
Just a few decades ago, this might have been impossible. Many people probably didn’t even use the word ‘freelancer’, let alone hire one. And even today, finding new work consistently as an independent consultant might have been difficult if it wasn’t for a growing online consulting marketplace. Luckily, there is supply as well as demand.