UK consultants believe investment in IT infrastructure and digital transformation offers the biggest growth opportunity in the year ahead. However, eight out of 10 consulting firms feel they are not investing enough in their staff’s skills to realize the true potential of technological changes.
According to a growing body of research, current technological advances present unprecedented opportunities for businesses. AI alone could give the global economy $44 trillion worth of productivity gains, leading more and more companies to join the tech investment gold rush.
But over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that investing in technology without supporting the staff who actually use it is likely to result in failure. Various studies show that two-thirds of digital change programs fail to meet their stated goals – often because they fail to invest in employee skills.
A new survey of consulting decision-makers by Deltek, shows that the sector is determined to learn those lessons as it looks to leverage cutting-edge technology to drive results in the next year. Deltek polled the leaders of 64 UK and Irish companies with 25 or more employees on opportunities and challenges, technology trends and business developments. And first, researchers found that despite market sentiment, consulting firms across the British Isles are betting big on emerging technologies.
When asked what they felt the biggest opportunity for them was, the top response was ‘investing more in IT infrastructure’ – accounting for 20% of respondents. A further 20% said entering new markets or segments was an important opportunity – which the addition of new IT systems could support – while in third place, 14% said they looked see the greatest opportunities in technological innovation.
In this context, it is perhaps not surprising that 74% of consulting firms told Deltek that they will increase their investments in emerging technologies in the coming year. Or, that 31% claim that the number will be significantly more than last year. Amid a slowing consulting market, firms are taking a proactive approach to maintain their profits.
Neil Davidson, group vice president of professional services at Deltek, said of the findings: “Digital transformation is key to overcoming the increasing complexity of projects. It is clear that projects are more challenging in times of high inflation and uncertain economic and geopolitical pressures, with two-fifths of commercial businesses reporting increased prices of goods or services and the need to The budget must be more balanced. Consulting organizations recognize the power of emerging technologies in supporting a wide range of challenges related to resource management. There has never been a more important time for companies to implement change programs within their organizations.”
However, it is important that consultants acknowledge that simply throwing money at technology does not in itself guarantee success. Of all the challenges ahead, Deltek’s research highlights inadequate training and support for employees as the top issue. A majority of 83% of consultants said the same – 67% said there were insufficient resources and budget, 67% said planning and preparation were inadequate.
Along with training the existing workforce, this means many consulting firms are looking to grow their workforce, casting a wider net to recruit top talent. In contrast to the behavior of many of the UK’s largest consulting firms – which have been laying off staff as workloads slow – 19% of consulting firms will significantly increase the size of their workforce.