UPfront: Management consultancy – dead or just leaving home?

After couple of decades of downsizing, outsourcing, re-engineering, implementing the big IT strategies, creating quality circles and masterminding cultural makeovers, it seems the corporate body is suffering “ideas fatigue”.

That is seen as one reason why times are getting little tougher for the big management consultancy players. recent article in the Australian Financial Review even asks “Is Management Consultancy Dead?”

Well no – but it’s certainly undergoing makeover of its own.

One recent major change, hastened by the rather over-convoluted Enron-Andersen relationship is that all “big five” major international accounting firms have shed their consultancy arms.

Ernst & Young consultants was sold to IT Services company Cap Gemini to become Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Andersen Consulting was spun off into Accenture; KPMG established its consulting group as separate entity couple of years ago; Deloitte has announced its consulting division will be separate entity called Braxton, and PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting is in the process of being sold to IBM Global Services.

More sign of maturity than death, suggests one local commentator. natural offspring of the financial services offered by accounting firms, management consulting is now all grown up and ready to leave home.

Meanwhile, there’s been fairly rapid growth in the number of small independent players offering specialist advice in such areas as project and change management or the so-called “soft” services such as leadership, coaching, EQ and communications skills.

Perhaps this increased fragmentation is no more than recognition that there are no silver bullets that guarantee performance enhancement. It’s more case of keeping the corporate body healthy, flexible and responsive to rapidly changing business environment.

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