Beyond Expertise: Redefining Consulting

The following article was provided to Consulting magazine by guest contributors Daniel Albright and Niraj Singhal of NTT Data Services. "Are…

Contributor | February 11, 2021

The following article was provided to Consulting magazine by guest contributors Daniel Albright and Niraj Singhal of NTT Data Services.

"Are you really a consultant?  Given the dilution of the term 'consult', professional services must provide more value than just domain expertise. The value of consultants must evolve to more outcome-based models. Successful firms are focusing on collaboration, innovation and outcome-orientation for long term value maximization." -Daniel Albright & Niraj Singhal

Across industries and across continents, digital transformation is sweeping through nearly every aspect of society, and organizations of all kinds are eager to adapt. In many cases, companies enlist help from outside consultants to help them assess their technology needs and plan for a swift and successful transition. But just as digital innovation has disrupted businesses in recent years, the role of the consultants they depend on is changing as well. Under pressure to deliver convincing returns on investments, clients are demanding that consultants provide more than impressive resumés and elaborate presentations – they want actual, measurable results. And – as the pandemic lingers and business results hang in the balance – they want them fast!

This heightened demand for outcome-based consulting models stems from several related factors, not the least of which is the dilution of the word "consult" in all its forms. These days it seems every business has "consultants" on staff or claims to offer "consultative solutions," which puts the onus on bonafide professional consultants to differentiate themselves and prove their worth. At the same time, the traditional consulting "bubble" seems to have burst, as ever-contracting budgets, outsourcing, and mediocre performance have led many businesses to question the hefty premiums charged by big-name consulting houses. Moreover, the divide between strategy and execution is shrinking, and clients are demanding that consultants follow up their research and strategies with real action and concrete value. 

As technology continues to play an ever-more integral role in every aspect of business strategy and operations, traditional IT service providers have an opportunity to move upstream and serve as value-added business consultants. What follows is a closer look at how these two worlds are coming together, what client companies should look for in a consultant, and how consultants themselves can be more successful in this digital age. 

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