At a time when disruption is seemingly the only constant in the corporate world, business leaders have increasingly enlisted management consultants to develop the digital solutions, employee experiences and financial strategies they need to remain competitive. But as economic uncertainty has proliferated, so too has the management consulting industry, growing 3.6% to revenues of $241 billion for more than 708,000 firms in the last five years alone. With so many consultancies to choose from, how can companies identify those best equipped for their unique challenges?
Forbes has partnered with market research company Statista to simplify this process by producing our annual ranking of America’s best management consulting firms. The list, compiled by surveying 7,500 partners and executives of management consultancies, as well as 1,000 senior executives who worked with such firms over the last four years, is divided into 16 sectors—from aerospace and defence to financial institutions—and 16 functional areas—including strategy, sustainability and digital transformation. The 216 firms that received the most recommendations are ranked according to star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.”
Bain & Company and Deloitte tied for the title of most-recommended consultancy yet again, each earning nods in all 32 sectors and functional areas, but it was Accenture that won the most five-star ratings, garnering 20 in addition to 11 four-star ratings. The Dublin-headquartered firm, which calls more than 75% of the Fortune Global 500 and businesses across 120 countries clients, attributes much of its success to its forward-thinking mentality. “There’s no other company that invests billions a year in innovation the way we do,” says Omar Abbosh, chief executive of Accenture’s communications, media and technology group. “That combination of huge investment in innovation capability and execution discipline makes us stand out from the rest.”
Those billions invested may very well be the selling point that’s drawn clients to the consultancy in recent years, but it’s the firm’s steadfast focus on the fundamentals that has been propelling its business for decades. After all, a recommendation to implement the latest cyber security solutions and cloud-computing capabilities doesn’t mean much without the industry expertise and market intelligence required to effectively execute such a project. Accenture is positioned to provide this wide-ranging insight thanks, in part, to the sheer scale of the organisation, which comprises four businesses in addition to its consulting practice. “We have people who have exceptionally deep knowledge in each of the different areas you can think of,” Abbosh says. “Our consulting teams have the ability to pull all of that capability together and mix those skills to serve a client.” And so, consultants are able to take their advising one step further, for instance drilling down from the retail sector to the eCommerce segment and from digital transformation to machine learning. As industries evolve, consultants rely on Accenture’s resources to keep pace. “When we go to market with our consultants today, they have an array of skills and tools that are different from yesterday,” Abbosh says. “For example, our consultants have to be very comfortable with design-thinking approaches. Those are all features of the modern consultant tool set.”
A comprehensive understanding of the sectors and functional areas in which they’re advising is certainly a must-have for 21st century consultants. So is a healthy dose of realism. Driving change in any multinational corporation is no easy task, and as a global firm in its own right, Accenture has seen this from the inside out. This experience with many of the same challenges clients are navigating shapes the proposals its consultants bring to the table. “If you want to have a useful outcome for your client, the theoretical can be fun, but it’s not useful,” Abbosh says. “We’re a $100 billion market cap company that depends on incredibly tight execution, so when we talk to our clients, we’re not speaking from a position of theory—we’re speaking from a position of applied.” Accenture’s clients know this to be true. “Companies trust us to help them understand how to manage and cut costs in their core business,” Abbosh says. “What we are most known for is the practicalities of how to find trapped value that needs to be unlocked and then unlock that value to create growth.”
Based on the numbers alone, it appears Accenture has been doing just that, from executing a new cost structure at Mondelēz International that saved $1 billion, to digitising sales feedback to supply chains at Uniqlo that contributed to revenue growth of 350%. “Sometimes it’s cost, sometimes it’s revenue, sometimes it’s both, but it’s always focused on the client’s business value,” Abbosh says. “As long as we’re on the front end of innovation, I think we’ll be able to continue to serve our clients well.”
To determine the list, Statista surveyed 7,500 partners and executives of management consultancies, as well as 1,000 senior executives who had worked with such firms over the last four years. Respondents were asked to recommend consultancies across the predetermined sectors and functional areas; self-nominations were not considered. Statista then identified the firms with the highest number of recommendations and organised them into star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.” A total of 216 management consulting firms made the final ranking.
Sourced from Forbes - Written by Vicky Valet