Between Heaven and Hell
Disruption generates the need for consulting. Digitalization therefore leads to paradisiacal times for consultancies. Everywhere we look, there is a desperate and urgent need to catch up. And you are always better off if you have a professional guide when you enter new territory — in other words, someone who knows what to do because he has been there himself. So is our industry about to enter a new heavenly realm? Or are we more likely to find ourselves on a trip through hell? Can we as consultants actually master the challenges of digitalization, from innovation to implementation, for our clients and even for ourselves? I believe we can. But we ourselves must also change if we want to succeed. There are three factors I regard as decisive if we are to be successful along with our clients in the future.
1. Accompanying our clients through the digitalization process, from innovation to implementation, instead of just drafting concepts
Are we still creating PowerPoint slides, or do we have something to say? We must never stop asking ourselves this question. Having powerful concepts to offer and passing on the results in the classic waterfall model no longer get the job done. From innovation to prototyping to practical implementation — this approach that merges innovation, management consulting, and the high-tech world is where I see the future. We live in an age of exponential growth — but far too often, our introduction of new organizational structures and models is a knee-jerk reaction. Our clients, however, no longer need blueprints that have been used innumerable times. Nor will there any longer be a separation between steering and processing in the future. This is the motto now: “Thinking ahead instead of the trusted look to the past.”
2. Relevance of the ecosystem instead of knowledge for dominance
We must act like the spider in its web. A consultancy like us needs a direct link to the world of startups and innovations around the globe and partnerships at the macro-level. Thanks to the Digital Engineering Center in Berlin, the Cyber Security Ecosystem in Israel, or the Detecon Innovation Institute in San Francisco as well as the determined partnering with the appropriate know-how carriers on the market and from the Deutsche Telekom Group, we are more than just on pace when it comes to technological subjects — we have a decisive lead. This secures our positioning as an “early warning organization” for innovative business models and technology-based innovations. The days of knowledge for dominance are past. This is no different for cooperation among consultancies — all players need to act, and anyone who sits back and does nothing will quickly find himself on the sidelines.
3. Pronounced heterogeneity instead of conformity
The range of topics is broad and diversified — no one consultant, no matter how knowledgeable he or she might be, can hope to cover such a spectrum alone. That is why we need special skills for the right matchmaking that will enable us to guide our clients safely through these challenging times. The classic model of a consultant is obsolete — we need innovators, scientists, conceptualists, engineers, program managers, IT architects, networkers, and artists on the team. Knowledge and authenticity make the difference so that we do not face our clients just as traditional benchmarkers, but advance to become transform coaches and partners who must be taken seriously. Openness to innovation and great implementation strength are fundamental requirements.
And who says that the future of consulting will not end up in “spin-along approaches”? The question of re-integration opportunities of innovations and incubation is absolutely relevant. That is where companies today frequently fail — even in collaboration with hubs, labs, and startups. My vision for the future: consultants do not necessarily stay consultants, but take their projects into the company, i.e., to the client, after “finishing the project.” Depending on how meaningful it might be, sometimes to many, sometimes to one, sometimes to none, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently!
Our key question must be at all times: How can we achieve the greatest impact that will raise our client’s business to the next generation?