Growing sophistication on the clients’ part and a more complex, challenging business environment make it highly likely that the Consulting firms of the future will have to develop deeper and deeper specialisms in order to succeed. This will make it increasingly difficult for Consulting firms to establish and maintain a brand identity. There are two aspects to this. First, while some firms will find themes around which they can Cluster their specialist areas — business integration or innovation are good examples — for the majority, the pressure towards specialisation will create a vicious circle in which they have less and less money and resources available to try to project a more holistic image. The smaller companies will stay small (some may even shrink), and the larger companies will get larger. Second, while the large companies may be able to afford sizeable marketing budgets, with which they can run above-the-line advertising campaigns, the trend towards specialisation will make those campaigns — which are inherently generic — much less credible. You will continually be running the risk of commoditising your intellectual capital in order to gain the attention of a wider market. Internally, as well as externally, firms will have to position themselves as being specialists because ‘generalist’ work will not be sufficiently differentiated to have anything other than a commodity value.
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