Changing population demographics, shifting customer expectations accelerated by the pandemic and technology, a talent gap across industries, and a new work-from-anywhere employee base are changing the landscape of how work gets done in a global economy.
Businesses and technology leaders are re-imagining partnerships with professional services organizations in order to capitalize on this rapid pace of change.
These realities are fueling the growth of professional services firms that together offer a diverse set of strategy, technology, design, engineering, legal, accounting, and marketing services. In fact, the global professional services market is expected to grow from $6.0 billion in 2022 to nearly $6.4 billion in 2023.
Be it large firms like Deloitte, PwC, Accenture, KPMG, or BDO, or boutique specialty firms like The Cambridge Group or The BridgeSpan Group, professional services organizations have an unprecedented opportunity to play a pivotal role in helping businesses deliver more of what their customers want.
High-Value Opportunities for Professional Services Firms
Let’s explore the areas of business need and opportunity for professional services organizations in today’s digital, customer-centric world. For this analysis, I’ve assembled four areas of immediate impact for these firms to win, support, and grow customer relationships.
Co-Create With Customers, Don’t Just Sell Services
It’s easy for companies to suffer from tunnel vision, becoming focused internally on business operations rather than externally on market and customer dynamics. As the world goes digital and information and goods are available at the push of a button, companies require smarter, faster ways to develop and deliver solutions with and for their customers. Co-creation is a collaborative, purposeful way to work with customers and partners to ideate, problem-solve, improve performance, or create a new product or service.
Instead of just offering services, or selling or supporting the latest software, professional services organizations can work with their customers to co-create new capabilities and solutions. They have unique in-house IP (intellectual property), talent, technology and design, data, and engineering resources as well as many partnerships that can be put to work.
Everything from advanced proprietary robotic technology to customer self-serve apps to electronic vehicle battery design have been co-created by organizations working with their customers and the end customers of those customers. Producing tangible goods that generate customer value and revenue is much better than simply operating as a services organization that records billable hours.
Apply AI to Create Customer Experiences That Generate Revenue
Today, every organization is trying to understand where, when, and how to use AI (artificial intelligence). The number one application for AI is synthesizing and turning huge amounts of data into customer insights. But few companies have the expertise or talent to quickly get an initiative defined and in market with impact. Professional services organizations are in an ideal position to deliver AI strategies and services now.
For example, Deloitte has 27,000+ practitioners and 300+ AI partners to empower business and tech leaders to exploit human-machine collaboration. To help their customers increase revenue, the consultancy provides AI “data modernization” services to unify, analyze, and activate customer data. Deloitte’s customers — retail, financial, and even healthcare companies, to name a few — are putting this expertise to work to deliver the right offers and products at the right time in the channels in which each customer prefers to do business.
Another example is Addepto, a boutique firm that has worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies, including P&G and Citibank. The firm’s work is focused on using AI to create insights to build new business models and streamline existing ones.
Exploit and Optimize Cloud Resources to Deliver New Customer Solutions
Acceleration Economy’s Cloud Wars Top 10 providers all have a deep set of partner services organizations to help companies capitalize on the unique value of the cloud. Yes, there are cloud infrastructure requirements that professional services organizations can deliver on a complementary basis; in fact, the global IT professional services market size was valued at $821.6 billion in 2022. But a rapidly emerging need is to unlock access to the hundreds of rich applications available to businesses and their customers in the cloud.
The organizations can apply their intimate knowledge and industry domain expertise to identify the right strategy and approach, as well as the talent and resources to exploit the ready-to-use software available from cloud ecosystems.
A few examples of the solutions being developed in the cloud to highlight what’s possible for professional services organizations to help modernize their customers’ business include:
- consumer retail insights and specialty dashboards to increase customer loyalty and spend
- high-performance computing-generated models to inform company investments and risk assessment in specific markets
- remote wellness and healthcare services to bring treatments to those in need while providing relief for a growing clinician shortage
Analytics and Insights to Drive Revenue, Not Just Measure Stuff
Over the last decade, leaders have turned to reporting software and business intelligence dashboards to measure performance. In fact, companies will spend $57 billion on measurement, reporting, and analytics software, according to Acumen Research. Even with all this software investment, the stakes are increasing for business leaders to not just measure performance, but to use data to drive performance. The requirement now, heavily dictated by the expectations of customers and the pace of markets, is how quickly companies and their stakeholders can modernize data by turning it into business value.
Changing requirements have opened up the opportunity for professional services organizations to develop and bring to market big data-powered services, talent, and models to help business and tech leaders realize data’s value. The Powerhouse firm McKinsey brings hundreds of data and insights experts to the table for its customers. This firm has built out a consumer and shopper insights practice to use analytics and big data to better convert shoppers to customers and to more precisely segment customers for better profitability.
On the other end of the spectrum is a boutique firm out of London called Deeper Insights that focuses on “powering organizations to make bolder decisions through deeper insights.” Its focus is on helping large enterprise and scale-up clients use advanced data structures and algorithms, as well as simple dashboards, to empower business and tech leaders to use data to drive the business.
Professional Services Opportunity in the Age of the Customer
With today’s business and customer reality, both established professional services organizations and emerging boutique firms are in a strong position to step in and deliver new levels of customer and business value. Companies and their leaders are looking for partners that bring new ideas and action plans to solve challenges and unlock new opportunities. Some thoughtful closing advice from the CEO of PwC, Robert Moritz: “We’re asking our customers to change and adapt to today’s reality; we must lead by example.”
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