Press Release: Cyber Security will present biggest opportunity to Consultants in the run up to 2030

LONDON (20th March 2019) 

According to a new report, Cyber Security will present the biggest opportunity to Consultants in the run up to 2030 because of its potential to be a massive roadblock on the journey to a digital future.

“Consulting Skills for 2030” is a new report written by the Centre for Management Consulting Excellence (CMCE), partnered by Sheffield Haworth, a global talent consulting firm.  The CMCE conducted research into the skills that management consultants will need to sell and deliver assignments in 2030.

Data was sourced from 157 respondents through face to face interviews and an online survey.  Respondents were asked to rank and comment on several technology and societal drivers of change in terms of the scale and their likely impact on the skills needed by consultants.  The survey also explored whether the traditional skills of a consultant would still be relevant by 2030.

Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) ranked highly with 76% of respondents deeming it as having a radical or significant impact, it was in fact cyber security which topped the research with 77% of respondents saying that it would have the biggest impact and opportunity on consulting skills.

Cyber security is not a new problem, it very much exists today and forward thinking organisations are starting to take this issue seriously with cyber practices being established particularly over the last couple of years.

However, a lot of organisations are lagging behind with respondents stating that these clients have a ‘woefully poor’ lack of knowledge about cyber.  Increasingly companies are being faced with many more ‘unknown unknowns’, the understanding of the risks and potential solutions is rapidly running ahead of current management capabilities.

As the size and reliance on big data increases, so does the cyber problem.  The cyber threat has moved on from the amateur hacker; it is now played out in a context of big investments by agencies who seek to either destroy or to steal, which can bring a business to its knees.

For management consultants, cyber security is a risk management rather than a technical opportunity and going forwards management consultants will need to drive board level discussions on steering their clients’ businesses through the cyber minefield.  The management consulting industry will need to build and enhance skills in evaluating cyber security needs, proposing strategies and investments, business process improvements and information management architecture.

As businesses move towards a digital economy by 2030, it will be imperative that organisations seek advice on cyber security and keep it at the heart of everything they do.  Consultants will need to be able to address end-to-end cyber security issues otherwise they risk being ‘shunned’ in assisting clients with business strategies and solutions come 2030.

The research also highlighted AI as an opportunity for the consulting industry with 76% saying it would radically or significantly change the way the whole consultancy market operates and that consultants would need to acquire new skills.  It also divided opinions of many in the report, with some seeing AI as a huge disruptor and others seeing consultants taking it in their stride.  Several respondents argued that the full impact will be felt by 2040 not 2030.

Other areas addressed in the report were Self-employment, Big Data, Globalisation, the Internet of Things and Robotics.

It is important to note that timeless consulting skills such as senior relationship building and change management will remain very important in 2030, as humans look to humans to contextualise and interpret recommendations that technology will generate.  Consultants must invest in understanding the new technologies if they are going to be able to interpret them and they must beware the dangers of interpreting purely through the lens of past experience.

The most frequently mentioned ‘new skills’ that consultants will need, according to the respondents were; new technology; cyber security; innovation; self-promotion; cultural adaptation; and empathy.

Considering the whole report, the respondents said that change would be incremental and not radical.  It suggests that adaptable consultants can march forward to 2030 in their stride.  However, there is a disconnect when it comes to evaluating the consultants’ answers with non-consultants.  Non-consultants see the impact of cyber security, AI and self-employment on consultant’s skills as being much more radical by 2030 than do the consultants themselves.

Commenting on the findings Calvert Markham, Director of CMCE said, “Consultants must direct their inquisitiveness and knowledge building to get to grips with what is happening with new technologies and demographic trends, and to understand better the implications that these will have for both their clients and their clients’ customers.  These are not all things that are fully known today, but that fact cannot be an excuse for any complacency.  Clients need consultants to be thinking ahead of them, not lagging behind.”

To read a copy of the executive summary please click here.