Despite a lack of detailed research, many commentators have suggested that innovation in the consultancy sector is under pressure. In the words of The Economist, “the consulting industry desperately needs a ‘New Big Idea’ after BPR (Business Process Re-engineering) and TQM (Total Quality Management)” to sell to clients in the developed world given that most business will come from there for a while yet.
A recent report based on research into “Management Innovation in the UK Consulting industry”, published by the UK Institute of Consulting, available here, addresses this issue.
Rather than finding that innovation has declined in the consulting industry, this report argues that innovation has shifted. With profit margins down, there are pressures on innovation leading to less time being available for training, and research and development. The cumulative experience of clients in dealing with consultants and the growing use of procurement have also placed pressure on ‘added extras’ packaged with consultancy projects
The report found that innovations are today rarely the big name programmes, and are more often local, client-focused innovations; projects that are driven by a more discerning client who is often wary of being sold a ‘one-size fits all’ product, and are frequently undertaken as joint initiatives between clients and consultants.