[Video] Hear From The Experts: What’s Holding The C-Suite Back When It Comes To Digital Advancement?

Posted by Deltek on November 2, 2018

challenges facing the professional services

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We recently interviewed 700 decision makers from Architecture, Engineering and Consultancy firms to gain more understanding about industry changes and trends and business opportunities and risks. As a result we identified exactly what’s keeping your peers up at night and what they are doing to keep their firms at the forefront of their industry.

Our findings show that business leaders have been slow to react to the wave of technological change sweeping the industry. There is a clear divide between how those on the ground perceive the importance of emerging technologies and what senior leaders are planning to do.

In fact, only 19% of the C-Suite at professional services firms are predicting they will be digitally advanced in the next five years. But what's holding these leaders back and are they really in denial?

Watch the video below to hear what attendees at this year's Digital Leaders Forum have to say on the topic.


Are CEOs In Denial?

Professional Services Trends Report 2018



Emerging Tech And The C-Suite - What's Holding Leaders Back?

Neil Davidson, VP Enterprise, Deltek

"I think a key challenge is that disruption is pervasive in the industry right now. You have incredible disruptive forces from clients threatening to take their business to competitors at the drop of a hat, as well as the general digital trends in the industry. 

I think in the context of that, there’s also incredible operational pressures on the C-Suite in Professional Services firms. They are under constant margin pressure, projects are becoming increasingly more complex to deliver. And there's competitive pressures from boutique firms and firms looking to commoditise services.

I think in that competitive context - with digital transformation on the agenda - it’s really unclear how quickly businesses are going to change and how they will do it."

Ben Grinnell, MD & Global Head Of Digital, North Highland

"I think for a Professional Services firms it’s quite a tricky problem. There are two or three reasons for that. 

One is that Professional Services firms don’t often bring in big consultancies and do big projects to themselves, instead they often try and do things in a lean fashion. They focus on needing to digitally transform and that needs to be led from the top. 

Secondly, quite often with big partnership models there isn’t that singularly-focused dictatorship leadership style. As a result, you end up with a broad spectrum of opinions at the top. So they have to reach alignment, which is quite tricky as well. We see this challenge with a lot with our clients. 

And thirdly, you’ve got a workforce which is traditionally, largely at client sites, helping different clients. They are quite remote, they are not all in one building and it’s quite difficult to get that workforce focused on the ways of working with digital transformation and innovation. Quite often they are so focused on solving their client's problems that they aren’t focused enough on some of their own problems. 

Those three things combined make it quite difficult."


"Quite often they are so focused on solving their client problems that they aren’t focused enough on some of their own problems"



Tom Deacon, Director, Global Head Of Digital, Turner & Townsend

"It’s a very interesting statistic. I have a view as to why that might be the case. I think a lot of this value we’re talking about in Professional Services firms is in knowledge. And a lot of people who work for Professional Services firms perceive their personal value as the knowledge that they retain in their brains. 

However, the value that the firm offers to the clients is having that knowledge available to everybody - and I think that's one of the big opportunities for digital solutions, being able to bottle that knowledge and make it available for everyone - creating a 'knowledge democracy'. 

But this is against the interests of a lot of people who work in Professional Services firms - it’s not necessarily in their personal interests, and there’s therefore resistance to change for that kind of digital transformation, And that means it is a 'business transformation' for these firms. And particularly for the bigger ones as it’s more difficult for them to change and therefore that change will take time - hence the stat that 19% of the C-Suite are predicting that they won't be digitally advanced in the next 5 years."


"that's one of the big opportunities for digital solutions, being able to bottle...knowledge and make it available for everyone"



Ross Williamson, Managing Partner, Wipro Consulting

"I think there are two aspects to this. The first one is actually that no-one is really sure where you can get the value from the technologies, as a consulting firm delivering service to clients. 

And the second reason is, we’re all keen to be close followers, rather taking our chances being the first one out there. And really we are not sure how our clients will react - to automation, to the use of artificial intelligence, to robotic type stuff. Frankly, it’s a big step - and we're personally taking a one step at a time approach. And I’ve seen from your data that we’re not the only ones taking a cautious approach."

For the full results of our study with 700 decision makers in the Professional Services industry, download a complementary copy of the report below.


Are CEOs In Denial?

Professional Services Trend Report

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