Consulting Quest hosted its first European client conference – Consulting Procurement 2.0, in Paris on November 17. Thank you to everyone who joined us in Paris, on a péniche boat!
The event was very insightful thanks to a combination of both a great mix of attendees from companies like L’Oréal, SNCF, Solvay, some working for consulting firms and as professors, mostly French but some came over from the UK as well. These great speakers presented us with some valuable insights from their profession.
There was a constructive interaction between the audience and speakers on topics such as the evolution of consulting, how companies buy consulting today, the impact of the digital revolution, and how we can better work with consultants.
The Impact of Digital Revolution
Everything is now moving online. All companies need to have a web portal, be able to do e-commerce, communicate online, all while keeping in mind that the consumer is more and more active on the move from their smartphone.
The organization of consulting firms needs to be agile, adapt to rapid change, work collaboratively, and learn from its mistakes using feedback rather than intuition.
Emmanuelle Savarit, CEO of Analyse Concept, explained in detail the variety of roles in digital which are more diverse than most imagine. She therefore questioned the ability of the Big 4 to be the best in each digital expertise.
Alain Alleaume, Founder and CEO of Altaris, illustrated those trends with the example of cloud computing, and particularly SaaS. Clients have high expectations because consultants need to be specialized in their specific industry in order for the consulting spend to be justified. Specializing, for consultants, gives them a legitimacy to find the best solutions and to support the client when entering the project phase.
Therefore, consultants need to adopt an agile methodology, constantly watch the market, understand the vendor market evolution, and bring a real added value, the best “value for money”.
Make or Buy Strategy
Most companies work to optimize their external spend and their pool of suppliers to better support the overall strategy. What are the key activities that can be outsourced? What providers are appropriate for us? Is it worth it to outsource a particular activity for the long term? The same questions apply to consulting procurement.
Pascal Lupo, President of SNCF Consulting, explained that the advantage of in-house consulting is that the consultant is mire aligned with the history and organizational culture of the company. Having your own consultant has an indisputable confidentiality advantage, and of course some economic interest.
On the other end, the increasing specialization of consulting projects causes clients to not know where to look when they have a specific need. By working with companies specialized in this field, those companies will be able to analyze their consulting spend, refresh their make or buy strategy, identify robust suppliers and areas where new blood is needed.
How Companies Buy Consulting?
William Frost, President of Strategy Analysis International, explained that, over the years, there has been a clear shift from a product-driven economy to a service-driven one. Products are now only a minor part of one supplier’s offering. The service economy changes the old production paradigm where the supplier’s output is the key economic variable. In the service economy, you NEED a customer in order to produce. Not only can you not stock services like inventory, but each project it tailored to the buyer.
The customer thus becomes an integral part of your production process. You no longer supply any physical product: you co-produce with your customer. The supplier’s input becomes part of the added value of the customer’s own production process. The customer is now the supplier’s partner. The consulting-as-a service provider has also evolved, from supplier of expertise (or of forgotten reports) to partner, increasing their value to the customer.