Ringing The Changes: Professional Services Firms Must Adapt To Thrive

Posted by Neil Davidson on January 23, 2019

change in the professional services

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As any senior manager working in professional services will tell you, the sector is in the midst of a period of dramatic change. Firms face an increasingly competitive market in which tighter margins have become the norm. They must also confront a swathe of new regulations and worsening skills shortages, not to mention having to adapt to the wave of technological change sweeping the world and disrupting all in its wake.

To explore these problems, as well as possible solutions, we surveyed 700 senior decision-makers from around the globe, ranging from divisional heads to chief executives. They worked in a variety of sectors and professional services firms, from boutique consultancies up to $1bn-plus enterprises.


Industry Report

The future of the Professional Services



Mounting Threats


Most expressed a sense of unease about the future, as well as a desire to tackle their issues head on while harnessing potential opportunities. Many want new tools to help, in particular new technological systems, and yet only 19% of chief executives say they expect their firms to be digitally “mature” or “advanced” within five years.

It is a startling statistic given the scale of the challenge ahead. For example, some 91% of decision-makers do not think their firm is prepared for sweeping new regulations set to hit the sector, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And yet the penalties for not preventing data breaches have increased dramatically.

Meanwhile, clients are becoming more demanding and projects have gotten more complex. The need to operate efficiently is clearly vital, and yet more than half of chief executives spend “hundreds of hours” working on reports to enhance business performance that too often “offer limited insight”. Worse still, 67% do not know if they will need to hire or fire three to four months from now, suggesting poor visibility of their pipeline, projects and people.

Better systems and management strategies can help deal with these issues, improving the visibility of work pipelines, driving greater efficiencies and strengthening company culture. But firms must embrace change if they are to innovate their way out of danger.


"firms must embrace change if they are to innovate their way out of danger"



Waking Up To Change

As our report sets out, some are taking practical steps to address the issues by embracing new methods of working or pricing structures, or expanding into new markets and specialising to stand out from the crowd. Others have woken up to the need for digital transformation and are embedding technology at the heart of their organisations, so that tech is embraced at all levels of the company, not just the CTO and their team.

This will help professional services companies tame complexity, drive cultural change and appeal to younger, more digitally savvy employees who hold the key to remaining competitive in years to come. It will also enable them to react quicker to threats as younger, more agile companies enter the market and upend traditional business models.

As our report shows, firms that act now will be able to shore up their defences and find new avenues to growth. Those that do nothing, however, risk being left behind.

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


Industry Report

The future of the Professional Services

Download Your Copy