The Rapidly Growing Field of Digital Consulting – A Snapshot of Recent Industry Initiatives

A review of recent developments in the digital consulting industry. 

Staying current on trends in the consulting industry can be challenging, with a lot of changes happening very quickly. This snapshot will help competitive intelligence and information professionals understand new developments within digital consulting.

The rapidly expanding specialty of digital consulting is one of the fastest growing segments within the consulting industry. This specialty can include services as vast as Web page design, search engine optimization, social media outreach or even building an in-house innovation lab.  A consultant’s insights can be more encompassing than just these isolated services, however.  Seen in a wider context, digital consulting can be viewed as an overarching service that uses digital design/technologies in order to help clients manage the overall customer/brand/omnichannel experience.

Types of Digital Consulting Services

With the rise of the popularity of mobile devices, as well as the sleekness of design of tablets and iPhones, companies have started to become increasingly interested in high quality designs and substantive omnichannel presence for their brands. Digital consultants have stepped up to fill this demand. These consultants are often asked to help with bridging the offline and online experiences of a given company. Consulting firms have now evolved to provide the next wave of services which blend design, technology and general consulting expertise.

Because of the complicated and ever-changing nature of digital technology, most companies do not have the in-house expertise to navigate this new field. Clients are therefore seeking experts that can help them navigate and guide them through a successful digital transformation. With the right digital management, even a new start-up can have a sophisticated omnichannel sales platform set-up with a modern website that can rival million dollar companies’ Web presence.

New Digital Consulting Initiatives 

In a recent article entitled “The Rise Of Digital Consultancies,” Forbes examined the growth of this booming consulting niche. The author reviewed how major consulting firms have been increasingly building digital divisions in order to address the needs of clients.  Some of the larger consulting firms are even acquiring design firms, in their desire to provide full digital services. Forbes indicates that clients want more than just advice on the right SEO keywords or how to build an attractive website. Clients seem to be asking their consultants to help them build a transformation of the overall digital presence of their companies.

One example of a major consulting firm investing in design expertise is Deloitte Digital’s acquisition of Heat, a full service advertising agency, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.  Andy Main, Deloitte Digital’s CEO explained the move by saying: “Adding Heat’s extraordinary and award-winning creative capabilities is the perfect complement to our market-leading and long-established digital business. We are the single place for our clients to go to connect business strategy with creative strategy and content, customer experience, core business operations, transformational technology, and campaign execution.”

The digital consulting arm of Accenture likewise acquired the Swedish digital consulting firm, Brightstep.  The acquisition allows Accenture to provide more personnel trained in e-commerce software. Additionally, Accenture bought Cimation, an internet-of-things (IoT) technology company, in late 2015, in order to expand its digital consulting services offerings. With this acquisition, Accenture delves more into an asset management role. Cimation’s technology allows for Accenture to integrate digital strategies with IoT projects.

A multitude of smaller firms are also engaging in digital consulting. Onc such successful company is Click Here Publishing. This firm assists clients with their needs regarding search engine optimization, pay per click, social media strategies, website design and general strategic consulting. Their blog contains postings on how regional businesses have used the firm to help them improve their digital presence, increase Web traffic or to build a digital brand.

Consulting firms have embraced digital/design technology so well, that an article in Clickz even asked if these specialty firms are a threat to digital advertising agencies. The article reviews the various agency acquisitions of PwC, Accenture and others, contending that their creation of in-house digital expertise may make them full competitors of the major advertising agencies. In fact, ad executives are now even being hired by consulting firms. Overall, the article concludes that what may occur in this industry is a type of “coopetition” whereby ad agencies and consulting firms work hand-in-hand in order to bring the most value to the client. Indeed, the volume of demand coming from clients may bring in enough work for all available service providers.

Conclusion

As more advanced technologies arise, the opportunities for digital consulting services are likely to expand right alongside with them. The new services and acquisitions which may develop within the digital consulting specialty should make for an interesting future landscape of cutting edge technologies and state-of-the-art designs.