The coronavirus pandemic had a substantial impact on the management and strategy consulting industry in 2020. Revenue was expected to drop in the management consulting industry by nearly 8 percent in that year alone, according to the research group IBISWorld. In 2021, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine was expected to rebuild the economy, and with businesses reopening, demand is expected to resume growing for management and strategy consulting services. Industry revenue growth will accelerate through 2026, due to the projected expansion of business budgets, which will enable companies to increase their spending on management and strategy consulting services. As of January 2021, there were approximately 865,055 management consulting businesses, with nearly 1.7 million employees, in the U.S.
Management and strategy consultants will continue to have good job opportunities. The Department of Labor forecasts 14 percent employment growth through 2028, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. Organizations in various industries will always seek ways to improve their business operations for greater efficiency and increased revenue. As the economy strengthens, markets become increasingly competitive, which, in turn, creates demand for management and strategy consultants for their expertise in resource management. Demand for consultants will be especially strong in the health care industry. As the DOL describes it, “this industry segment is experiencing higher costs because of an aging population…[also] more management analysts will be needed to help navigate the regulatory environment within health insurance.” Consultants who specialize in information technology will also have good job opportunities in the near future. Companies will need help with improving their I.T. systems and ensuring they are up to date. Government agencies will also need management and strategy consultants to help improve efficiency and reduce spending. Consultants who specialize in operations and financial advisory will continue to be in high demand as well.
Opportunities may be best, going forward, for independent, freelance management and strategy consultants due to recent developments in the consulting field. For example, a growing number of companies are using crowdsourcing and consulting services through networks. Crowdsourcing is as its name suggests: the gathering of insights from many sources to solve problems. As described by the market research company Beroe, “Pricing and flexibility offered by independent/freelance consultants have led to the rapid expansion of the freelance consulting segment. Clients are transitioning from traditional consulting to more collaborative arrangements in which clients can leverage multiple consultancies to offer comprehensive services.” Many consulting agencies are starting to offer crowdsourcing as part of their services and this is expected to continue in the near future. Crowdsourcing typically entails teaming up with multiple firms and independent consultants to work on large projects and also projects in particular specializations. For specialist and boutique consulting firms, crowdsourcing helps to expand the consulting services and products they offer. It’s also a way for consulting firms of all sizes to tackle projects and help clients in certain industries and specializations they may otherwise not have been equipped to handle.
Technology will continue to impact the consulting industry, shifting how consultants and their clients access information and work together. The Internet has made it possible for people to access certain types of data and information that previously only business professionals such as consultants and consulting firms could access. As a result, the consulting industry is shifting toward focusing on asset-based consulting, which has been a recent disruptive that is expected to continue gaining ground. With asset-based consulting, tools and products are the priority rather than human capital, meaning the talent of the consultants. Wake Forest University School of Business describes it as follows: “With asset-based consulting, ideas, processes, frameworks, analytics, and other intellectual property are packaged and marketed more like a product than a service. Consulting companies often use this approach in conjunction with static processes and business models. KPMG’s cloud-based software approach to finance and accounting is a perfect example. This allowed KPMG to offer financial advisory at a fraction of the cost, bring in more clients, and gain a competitive edge.” (KPMG is an international professional service network and is one of the Big Four accounting organizations.)
Many consulting companies, regardless of their size, will continue to deal with the challenges of hiring and keeping high-quality employees. A Statista survey found that about 79 percent of senior managers cited that attracting and developing new businesses is also a top, and ongoing, challenge in the management consulting industry in the U.S. The management and strategy consulting industry will continue to offer good opportunities for experienced consultants who can help companies comply with regulations and keep up with technological advancements. Management and strategy consultants with a master's degree in business administration, certification in management consulting, and several years of relevant work experience, especially in project management and business development, will have the best job prospects.