It was a brutal year for the global management consulting industry. Market value took a nearly 20% hit in 2020. That translates to about $30 billion in lost revenue. It’s all thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, and it has sent consultants scrambling to look for innovative opportunities and device new business strategies.
Fortunately, as some industries have sharply reduced hiring consultants, other sectors have found it necessary to seek more outside help. An example of the former is the travel and tourism industry. It has taken such a massive hit that it is unlikely to hire many consultants through 2021. On the other hand, the medical and healthcare sector is overwhelmed as it deals with the massive fallout of the pandemic. It will take on more consultants than ever before.
In terms of basic practicalities, how consulting is accomplished will necessarily change dramatically. Traditionally, consultants travel a lot for in-person and on-site meetings with their clients. Like so many others, this activity will give over to meetings conducted remotely via computer screens.
Consider that most consultants spend 80% of their time away from home. This will be turned on its head as consultants work from home or office while connecting with Zoom, smartphones and other forms of digital interaction, such as proprietary apps.
Companies across the board are looking for ways to be more agile and to adapt nimbly to changing markets and customer needs. It’s likely that a sizable portion of business models will dial back on globalization strategies as they endeavor to bolster what they lose by nurturing local commerce.
The pandemic will provide new opportunities for consultants because thousands of clients will be looking for ways to restructure their operation from the ground up as they strive to deal with “the new normal.”
Even after the pandemic gets behind us, it’s a certainty that business will never be done the same way again. The reasons for this are many and complex. However, just one example is the considerable investments companies will make in retooling their digital capabilities. Beefing up to operate digitally in pandemic times means that it will make little sense to simply dismantle everything to go back to the “old way” of doing things.
Post-pandemic 2021 and beyond promises to be a Brave New World for consultants — and that may turn out to be mostly a good thing when all is said and done.