The traditional lines between technology and management consulting are blurring. And consulting firms of all sizes are trying to keep up, broadening the scope of their offering (often through acquisitions) to meet the increasing demand for technology solutions and services.
We first looked at this situation in 2015, when we read the TBR 2015 Professional Services Predictions, which outlined key business changes and trends consulting firms should be on the lookout for. We were especially interested in one of the main findings: to achieve “above-average growth” in this rapidly changing environment, “targeting the right verticals and partnerships is key.” In other words, to sustain momentum, firms must rethink who they are targeting and how they reach them.
Our Brand Influence Guide on Management Consulting looked at the role of brand in the management consulting industry and found that mid-size firms, in particular, are having trouble finding their place in this converging and complex marketplace. As a report from Technology Business Research pointed out, the overlapping worlds of consulting and technology continue to present many challenges – and opportunities – for firms in the coming year.
In the report, TBR examined the convergence issue from a business strategy perspective – implications for a firm’s offering, project mix and technological needs. We would argue that there are significant brand implications as well. As firms look to capitalize on convergence by targeting new markets (or grow share within existing segments), they must determine whether their current brand supports such efforts. Does the firm’s positioning and key messages resonate with target audiences? Is the story still relevant given the changing market dynamics? Does the current brand differentiate the firm in a compelling way?
The brand may need to adapt to accommodate the new market — and marketplace — and it must do so without alienating existing clients and partners. For some firms, this will mean a complete overhaul of the existing brand. For others, it may just require an update to key messages to clarify the value proposition of technology-enabled offerings for new markets. And maintaining messaging consistency across the organization is vital.
For all consulting firms, though, it is critical that any change in business strategy is supported by a change in brand strategy. Only when the two align will firms be able to truly capitalize on the evolving technology-consulting landscape and achieve growth goals.