Shaping Your Client’s Digital Future—a Long Term Opportunity
Alan Radding, Big4.com guest blogger
If you haven’t honed your digital strategy practice yet, the bandwagon will pull out without you. In April, Deloitte announced that Kennedy Consulting had put them in the vanguard of digital consulting strategy. In May Capgemini publicized its recognition for digital strategy leadership by Kennedy. As it turns out, many of the leading consulting firms got the Kennedy Consulting nod: A.T. Kearney; Bain & Company; The Boston Consulting Group; Booz & Company; Ernst & Young; IBM; McKinsey & Company; PwC, and more.
“Digital is the future and a critical component of business strategy in many industries,” notes Howard Tiersky, CEO of Moving Interactive, which specializes in digital innovation consulting. For Tiersky, digital represents the largest transformation the media world has seen in decades—the old rules and ways of launching new products no longer apply.
Kennedy Consulting voices a similar message: Digital strategy, the integration of digital technologies into companies’ strategies and operations in ways that fundamentally alter the value chain, is emerging as a significant source of competitive advantage — and driving revolutionary changes in the products and services companies bring to market, as well as how they do business.
At this point, the criticality of digital depends on the industry. “In some industries, digital has become the primary way to interact with customers,” says Tiersky. For customers in these industries—media, entertainment, travel sales, financial services—an effective digital strategy is a critical requirement. In some lagging industries digital is an important opportunity but not yet foundational. Before too long, however, every company in every industry will need strong digital strategy that shapes their digital presence.
Despite all the fervor around the digital landscape and an organization’s digital presence, “the role of consultant, in many ways, remains as it always been,” says Tiersky. Consultants help clients see opportunities where digital touchpoints can enhance their business, prioritize opportunities, and assist with development and execution of the digital strategy.
Yet, in other ways digital has changed the way consultants practice. “You won’t win by doing things the same way you would help clients deploy an ERP system,” says Tiersky. The old waterfall approach is gone. Success in the new digital landscape requires agile strategies and methodologies. Your clients’ needs and requirements will change fast. Dynamic content further drives the need for agile approaches.
From a competitive standpoint the digital consulting landscape is getting quite crowded. As Kennedy Consulting noted, most of the big consulting players already are staking out their place in the emerging digital landscape. But that shouldn’t discourage you; “the digital opportunity is massive,” notes Tiersky. And in a market that large there always is room for niche players. Tiersky adds: “There is a huge appetite on part of clients to work with smaller, more agile, nimble companies.”
A new competitive wrinkle, however, is the role of advertising and marketing agencies. An organization’s digital presence often falls under the direction of the marketing folks, not IT. As a result, marketing and advertising firms have moved into the space. These firms were never a factor when IT consultants were doing ERP or CRM systems, but with digital presence they can put a legitimate stake in the ground. “It’s a very diverse landscape now,” notes Tiersky, but many marketing services firms still don’t really understand what it means to develop true digital products.
From a business standpoint, at least, things haven’t changed much. Most consultants continue to work on the traditional time and materials basis or a blend time and materials with fixed fees. Tiersky has not encountered any unconventional pricing models catching on, such as shared risk or piece-of-the action. Among some big players there may be opportunities for what amounts to joint ventures, but these usually involve special programming, such as creating mobile apps or games that generate new revenue opportunities.
This is an opportunity that is going to grow and be around for a while. “We are going through a multi-decade transformation process; every business will shift significantly into digital world,” says Tiersky. Small and midsize organizations will be involved as well, and they too will need the help of consultants. Clearly it’s time to expand your own digital presence.