Pivoting to industry offerings and managing disruption: Not everyone can keep pace

Over the last two weeks, TBR has spent time with three leading IT services and consulting vendors, discussing their strategies for evolving digital transformation and hearing from their clients about what has worked and where frustrations remain. Two common themes came out of these discussions: industry-specific offerings and market disruption.

While we’ve frequently commented on the industry-centric culture and mindset of some leading IT services vendors and consultancies, we’ve typically seen their partnerships with technology vendors revolve more around horizontal solutions and emerging tech capabilities. One substantial shift of late has been a new focus on coinnovating, developing, and taking to market offerings and solutions designed specifically for industries, or even subverticals within an industry. This isn’t completely new, although the emphasis may be, and a sustained investment would solidify this trend. But the real implications, we think, will come for the IT services vendors amid their pivot to an industry focus. One of the leading vendors, a company as deeply ingrained with industry expertise as any of the Big Four firms, discussed its plans to roll out new industry-specific offerings with a leading software provider, noting that the companies together chose industries best suited to match their combined strengths. In contrast, we understand other large IT services vendors continue to struggle in pivoting to an industry-centric organization (never mind an industry-expertise culture). If these large vendors cannot identify their strengths and opportunities as well as their best-match software partners, they’ll fail to differentiate as the market moves to industry-centric digital transformations.

The second theme, disruption, is something that everyone is talking about. No analyst event, client meeting, or tour of an innovation, immersion or experience center passes without the discussion turning to how disruption in the market forces quicker decision making and faster actions. What emerged during my discussions with all three vendors these past two weeks was the clear distinction between internal and external disruption and the role an IT services vendor or consultancy can play in assuaging one and stoking the other. Clients spoke at length about the role their IT adviser played in ensuring core systems and operations would not be disrupted, even as the enterprise itself, including IT, went through a digital transformation. The three companies we met with described their role in providing trust, assurance, hyper-care attention to issues and problems, and everything from the road map to the running-at-speed implementation for clients both ready to change and nervous about the risks involved. Clients also expressed their fears of external disruption from traditional and nontraditional competitors, technology partners unable to deliver, and market forces moving faster than their systems can manage. While IT services vendors and consultancies haven’t created these fears, TBR can appreciate that a little uncertainty isn’t such a bad thing.

We will explore both issues in greater detail in our upcoming Management Consulting Benchmark as well as in the monthly deliverables in our Digital Transformation Insights portfolio. Stayed tuned.        

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