Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist
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Big data in consulting

Anonymous A

Will big data disrupt management consulting as we know it? How will consultants adapt to the granularity and depth of the insights afforded by automated big data processing?

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Guennael replied on 08/04/2016
Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist

The same way they have always adapted - by learning to leverage big data better than their clients. Many if not all the top consultancies have invested heavily in big data over the last few years, and many if not all of their clients have more data than they know what to do with.

By the way - before 'Big Data', we had 'CRM'; even before, we had 'personal computers' or whatever... there is always something new. Big Data will be just one more opportunity: as business becomes more complex, you could argue the need for consultants keeps increasing. BCG for example has grown by 15% CAGR since 1990 and that growth rate has increased recently if anything.

PS: I am not a consultant anymore, so have no personal incentive one way or the other. This is just my (hopefully educated) opinion! Best, Guennael - ex-BCG Dallas

replied on 08/04/2016
Case by case, step by step... till you're ready!


I agree with Guennal. Big Data is obviously a question for many clients. Consultants follow the needs of their clients and aim to build up expertise, before the client even knows that he needs it.

In the case of my former employer, McKinsey, approaches differ by industry. There is for example energy solutions, the BTO, etc...



replied on 09/13/2016
Experienced consultant, now running own consulting business

Hi there,

while Guennael and Peter are absolutely right about the adoption of Big Data in consulting services, I believe your question was also aimed at the question whether Big Data will actually disrupt the industry itself.

And I belive that there certainly is a possiblity for that. You have seen it with the advent of information readily available online, that the pure "knowledge advantage" of consultants has shrunk. A large corporate will have access to any database that a consulting firm has access to - and often more.

I believe that the same thing can happen with big data - companies that adopt a highly analytic, data driven approach will be able to extract a lot of insights that they previously needed consultants for by themselves. but of course, some will need help in getting to that point - and then we are talking about consulting again.

The question is whether the "classic" consulting forms will be able to adopt quickly enough to offer really data-centric insights, or whether this will go to a new breed of advisors.