2016 has been quite a year. From Aleppo to Zika, the world seems to be upended by unprecedented events. Whether it is the under-appreciated triumph of NASA’s mission to Jupiter or the screaming voices of Brexit and US electors, the world has been consumed by incidents that few predicted. What Winston Churchill once said of the Balkans can now be said of the entire world: we produce more history than we can consume.
The same can be said of management consulting and the industries that we support. One day’s optimism is rudely disrupted an endless array of unconventional forces, broken barriers and new rules. Whether it is established industries such as aerospace and defense, healthcare and energy or emerging businesses such as solar power, cyber-security or personal transportation, each day brings challenges that defy old paradigms and require new modes of support.
With all this chaos going on around us, we at SMA would like to peer into our crystal ball and take a stab at predicting the future of our industry and the clients we support.
We have long witnessed the breakdown of the traditional consulting model. Three and a half years ago Harvard Business Review ran an article documenting the precipitous decline in traditional strategy consulting. Our clients have known for years that hiring tribes of MBAs to extract and analyze their own data for strategic insight (give us your watch and we will tell you the time) is yielding less and less value.
In contrast, the need for execution support, particularly from expert professionals with experience-based know-how in strategy execution, management processes and analytics support has risen dramatically. We heard this call over a decade ago and mobilized our organization to meet this challenge. What began as a trickle is now a deluge of activity to serve our clients.
Meeting the current and future challenges of delivering excellence in the execution of strategy, management and analytics (SMA) have formed the basis for our predictions for 2017.
Prediction 1: On-demand managed professional support (MPS) for critical projects will continue to grow rapidly
Senior managers at leading companies will find increasing benefit from allocating mission critical work to vetted outside professionals who can bring the right set of work experience to their project. Optimizing the use of highly skilled MPS will become a necessity for success in hyper-competitive industries.
Prediction 2: Corporations will extend their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems to integrate on-demand MPS into their teams
In the same way that ERP allows JIT (just-in-time) raw material solutions, companies will look to automated solutions for expert labor deployment. Seamless integration will be enabled by increasingly sophisticated digital platforms that precisely match project needs to available on-demand talent.
Prediction 3: Development of more rational labor regulations
With all the political upheaval, the timing is ripe for more enlightened and flexible labor regulations. We predict that legislators will begin to see the benefits to both sides of a flourishing on-demand economy and support highly skilled professionals. We predict a more rational approach to 1099 restrictions and the lessening of the distinction between W-2 and 1099 employees.
Prediction 4: Companies will shun open marketplaces for talent and embrace curated pools with explicit guarantees
As companies entrust freelance talent for more mission critical projects, they will seek to reduce risk with companies that stand behind their talent pool with service guarantees and support. Companies will increasingly seek MPS solutions over “open” and transaction-based staffing arrangements.
Prediction 5: Freelance professionals will seek better ways to showcase their experience and grow their knowledge base
Individuals across an increasing array of disciplines will seek better ways to display their accumulated knowledge to get better assignments faster. The best will find better platforms to connect with their communities of practice in order to continue their lifelong journey of learning.
Well those are our predictions for 2017. We’ll check back in a year and see how we did. In the meantime, feel free to comment on these or offer your own predictions. Visit us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Glassdoor, Twitter, and Instagram. Cheers to a successful 2017!