How the big consultancies struggle for relevance
In the past years, more often classical strategy consultancies and design agencies met each other at the same pitches at clients. Nowadays, both often compete for the same projects and clients.
Through the digitalisation and the ever-growing pace of change many new challenges emerged. The requirements for both, consultancies and design agencies, changed rapidly. Often the classical consulting tools of benchmarks, Excel spreadsheets, use cases or PowerPoint slide decks are not sufficient anymore. What consultancies boast in expertise, logic and analytical skills, they lack in creativity and intuition. Design agencies on the other hand are strong in these fields and thus emerged as valuable partners in the times of design thinking, prototyping and agility. However, they often lack the business science and strategic mindset.
Many businesses seek one partner, which has both skillsets combined, to tackle the challenges of digitalisation and development of new business models. In the past two years, many old-established consulting companies felt forced to react on this development and just started to acquire their new competitors, the design agencies, and broaden thereby their traditional skillset. In an ongoing series of events, Accenture bought Fjord, McKinsey bought Lunar and Veryday, Capegemini bought Fahrenheit 212, Deloitte acquired Acne and Market Gravity and so on.
But often a fruitful collaboration between the two organisations is more than complicated. Two completely different cultures clash which are often deeply embedded in the respective company DNA. WPP’s chief executive Martin Sorrell put it this way: “If you ask the Accenture consultants whether you can buy culture, they would say no. Traditionally, those consultants have worked with chief information officers or chief technology officers on the left brain; we’ve tended to work with chief marketing officers on the right brain.”
When acquiring a new agency, the press releases often reads euphemistic “We are joining forces”, but looking at the reality the power relations are very clear. The agencies are acquired by the consulting firm and are often only a small part of a large organisation. Integrational efforts are often carried out lukewarm and the agencies largely remain in their role as (external) service provider. Consultancies also tend to neglect, that it is much harder to scale creative compared to technology and by now the first mergers already failed and parted ways again.
We at the savvy company, are a true kind of a new strategic advisory. From early on, we sought to combine both skillsets and grew organically in the past years. The core of our belief is to always start with the customer needs and painpoints and utilize them in a design thinking process. But with the capabilities of our interdisciplinary and well attuned team we are also able to design sound business models and go-to-market strategies. Contact us for more information.