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15 May 2020

Adapting competitive intelligence research to the biggest 2020 consulting industry trends ... including an unexpected pandemic

The rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world brought the global economy to a screeching halt. As a result, Source Global Research predicts that the global consulting market could shrink by as much as 19%—from $160 billion to $130 billion.  Consulting services in the U.S. could fare slightly better—with a 15% contraction—and experts agree that consulting opportunities will vary greatly by industry. Healthcare consulting, for example, will likely decline by 28% as hospitals and healthcare networks reallocate budgets to meet critical short-term needs. Is there a silver lining in these predictions? Definitely. As companies grapple with how to deal with the economic fallout of the corona virus pandemic, consultants will still be in demand. Even the hard-pressed healthcare industry will come out of the crisis looking to solve the problems that a fast-moving pandemic brought to light—capacity challenges, along with supply chain resilience. Plus, even though COVID-19 is a top-of-mind concern now, there are several other 2020 trends that consulting firms still need to consider as they re-map their 2020 strategies to meet the changing needs of their clients. Let’s look at those trends and how research for consultants can provide the insights consultants will need to make it through this year with a healthy bottom line.   

3 Trends Having an Impact on Consulting & Competitive Intelligence

When the pundits began predicting trends late last year, social distancing and working from home certainly weren’t on their radar. But the rise of corona virus doesn’t mean those other trends aren’t still relevant. In fact, the trends we highlighted in our 2020 Trend Report for Consultants seem even more relevant to our new normal.

Information Access Enables More Consulting Competition


The gig economy was well underway prior to the corona virus outbreak, but as Michael Kearns, VP Enterprise for Toptal, tells Forbes, “Clients are very focused on learning how to do remote right, and work is still getting done so there is still a need for freelance expertise. This plus the sudden openness to remote will drive more freelance work as well as more enablement work for suddenly remote teams to learn how to do it right.” For freelance, contract or small consulting firms, access to powerful technology that enables research for consultants can provide a crucial advantage during economic downturns. While larger consultancies may have greater cash reserves to weather a recession, having access to a trusted body of news, company and executive information and more can help you stay agile and compete more effectively with existing resources.

In-house Strategy Consulting May Still Grow

Earlier this year, experts predicted that large corporations would be on the hunt to create in-house strategy consulting teams. Now, many companies are looking at their original 2020 strategies and wondering, “Where do we go from here?” As a result, they may still be looking to build out a team to assist in revamping strategic plans, even if they do so by pulling expertise in from across the organization with outside consultant support.

Collaborative Consulting Yields Opportunities

Demand for general consulting has been on the decline, but specialized consulting had been poised for growth at the start of the year—and that’s likely to still be the case. Because of the disruption caused by corona virus, specialized consulting could be in high demand, particularly in sectors that are struggling now. Collaborative consulting allows companies to bring on talent from a deep pool of experts for projects that have a very focused scope. It’s a cost-effective, efficient approach to getting the expertise needed to adapt to the change ahead.

Are you interested in learning more about these trends and how Nexis for Consulting can help you uncover critical competitive intelligence?  Download the full trend report here.