How can smaller consulting practices take advantage of technology?

Dr. Stephen Louis CMC, BusinessTech Research, Inc.

The changes in the manner of work driven by technology were in the spotlight of an online discussion on Tech Innovation in Consulting on 22 June 2022 as part of the ICMCI Future of Management Consultancy initiative. The roundtable brought together Christopher Harper CMC, Dr. Stephen Louis CMC, Hadis Nazari, Mohammadreza Mahmoodi and Bob Hruska and was moderated by ICMCI Chair Robert Bodenstein CMC.     

Dr. Stephen Louis CMC, Managing Director of St. Lucia-based BusinessTech Research Inc., focused on a different aspect of digitalization as he zoomed in particularly on small consulting businesses and practitioners that operate in “constrained” circumstances. This refers to situations where consultants face limitations such as small markets and limited opportunities, relatively low turnover, or whose practices are based on a single or very small number of consultants. Collectively these constraints may make it difficult to access suitable technology, training and development opportunities, or justify the required investments.

Is it possible for consultants who function in a constraint environment to benefit from technology? The simple answer is “Yes, it is” but it has to be through slightly different approaches in comparison to larger firms.

For example, while such consultants may not be able to engage in full-fledged “digital transformation”, they can benefit from “digital intensification”. This may not represent transformation in the true sense of transforming the nature of the operations and services through ICT but implies instead the intensification of ICT use to improve the delivery of services.

Such consultants can also benefit from a location-agnostic model of delivery. In the context of consulting, this refers to being able to remotely deliver services from wherever the consultant is located to wherever the client requires them. 

This approach may present some challenges at first, as consultants may need to adjust their internal operations to accommodate it. However, there is a great opportunity as COVID has changed the attitudes of clients to remote engagements, making them more receptive. Now people assume that a meeting will be remote unless specified otherwise. 

Remote engagements can offer benefits to both clients and consultants, and it is important to emphasise to clients how they will benefit. For example, there are things you can do in a remote meeting/presentation which are not possible in a face-to-face meeting.

The highlights of the location-agnostic delivery model include: 

  • Requires access to appropriate ICT tools. The selection and use of the tools need to be prioritised based on need, opportunity and resources available. Smaller consultants are usually not able to invest in platforms unlike large firms. Functionality to be provided by such tools include:
    • Customer engagement and communications ​
    • Knowledge and information management
    • Project management and execution
    • Administration of the consulting practice
    • Managing human capital
    • Learning and continuous professional development, including online learning 
    • Marketing promotion and visibility, including social media
  • It is important to have access to knowledge and information resources. It is essential for consultants to organise their information in such a way as to ensure that it is always available to them, regardless of location

The priorities may be different for the different firms. Therefore, smaller consultants need to consider four questions to decide how to prioritise:

  • How can a technology allow me to access markets and opportunities that may not be available otherwise?
  • How can it help me to perform better at a better quality in terms of client expectations?
  • How will it allow me to perform work more productively?
  • How can it allow me to work in a more rewarding way, financially and otherwise?

For more from Dr. Stephen Louis, please check out this video

For more highlights of the event, please visit the ICMCI YouTube channel

About Dr. Stephen Louis CMC®

Dr. Stephen Louis CMC® is an ICT and Management Consultant with over 35 years of experience. He is Managing Director of BusinessTech Research, Inc., a St Lucia-based consulting firm which he founded in 2001. The firm’s services cover strategic, operational and technical assistance to businesses and other organizations that aim to maximize the benefits derived from use of ICT. Stephen has held a number of senior positions in both the public and private sectors, and has conducted consulting assignments, both within and outside the Caribbean.

About the Future of Management Consultancy

Combining a series of events, discussions and publications, the ICMCI Future of Management Consultancy initiative strives to promote the global conversation about the future of the profession towards developing a common vision to help and inspire consultants all over the world.

Designed as an “open source” and inclusive platform, the Future of Management Consultancy is an opportunity to seek answers to pressing questions and to encourage interactive communication and joint idea generation.