I see two things replacing/impacting consulting (at least in it's current/traditional state), both driven by technology: clients undertaking work internally, and the emergence of big data / data science.
When excel was still a relatively new tool, most corporate clients would have a relatively limited ability to use the tool to perform analysis themselves. Therefore, they had to hire consultants. Nowadays, tools are much more advanced and accessible, and the generation of analysts/young managers at corporate clients are much more technologically literate. Some of my clients today are even using more advanced tools like Tableau, so many tasks that before could have been an entire consulting engagement are performed internally.
With the rise of data science, and the increased ability of clients to do analysis themselves, less and less projects nowadays have the “traditional” type of analysis you might find in a case – e.g. breakeven analysis, profit line profitability, etc. Instead, I see the majority of projects going into one of two directions:
- highly analytical, using advanced tools like SQL, Alteryx, Tableau, Python, etc.: These are areas with great potential for clients, and areas where most clients are still not that proficient in
- Operational/non-quantitative cases (e.g. operating model re-design, PMO): Where clients are better at conducting basic analysis, consultants can still bring tremendous value through rigor, structure, and communication. Therefore, these
Consulting won’t be substituted – it will evolve with the trends of our time: Parts of consulting have now been “internalized” by clients, and the types of projects are changing rapidly. Of course, this will mean that some players will win, and some will lose – the consulting landscape in 10 years could be drastically different from what it is today.