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Article in EU Business News – issue Feb 201

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Article in EU Business News – issue Feb 201

How Technology Will Transform the European Consulting Landscape 

This month, we selected Enabling Procurement (EP), a young consultancy firm specialised in procurement, as our One to Watch in Procurement Consultancy in Belgium. This is down to their new approach to consulting which seems to have hit a chord with many mid-size European businesses. Consulting firms are quick to promote change programs that deploy fastmoving digital technology for their clients, but how can technology improve your interactions with your consultants? We asked the question to Enabling Procurement, one of our 2017 Belgian Business Top 100.

EP has built and implemented purchasing strategies for multicultural and multi-site clients. However, they are not only advising their clients to be more agile, the buzz word for some time now (533 hits on Accenture site search, 916 on McKinsey), but they also believe that agility is the key to their own relationships with their clients. Managing Director of EP, Olivier Durand provides us with his thoughts on the industry at present, and what developments are arising within the sector.

“Interestingly, I do not believe that clients will keep asking to implement an ‘agile’ strategy and keep paying their consultants millions of euros over several years to do so. It does not really make sense. Then again at the same time, you cannot build a successful procurement strategy without extensive knowledge and expertise in the category that you are transforming.”

Indeed, for many years, large consulting groups worked on building a very substantial pool of expertise that they could sell at a high mark-up to their clients. Maintaining access to and delivery of this knowledge was anything but agile. Nevertheless, with the help of new technology and ways of working, EP is looking to change that, as Olivier explains.

“Essentially, you cannot make a good decision in procurement unless you have the right knowledge. You need market knowledge, benchmark data, we want to help companies get access to the right information, from the right people, so they can make the right decisions.”

EP has just made a big step towards making procurement truly agile with Solutiam, a web platform that allows any European business that needs accurate category expertise to get it for a token fee. Sailesh Krishnan, product developer at EP explains more about this website platform.

“With Solutiam, it does not matter if you are a business with 200 people or 20,000, if you are looking for benchmark information on the cost of, for example, temporary workers in your region, a genuine expert who has spent his career negotiating contracts for temporary workers will come back to you with the information you need to make the right decisions. We are making this tool available to everyone, even our competitors, as we believe it will help all of us to elevate the procurement community.”

This approach presents an interesting perspective on the future of large consulting corporations; if people can share knowledge within the procurement community, instead of asking one consulting firm to provide them with experts (who are probably not even the top experts in the market), they could reach out directly to the top 10 experts authorities for any category.

This is the essence of Agility, after all, as so often promoted by consulting firms. Soon, businesses will have to apply it to themselves, and the market is already moving in this direction.
Already, 20 to 30 % of the working-age population engage in some form of independent work (“Independent Work: Choice, Necessity and the Gig Economy”, McKinsey Global Institute, October 2016).
As a result, we put the question to Olivier and asked him if this transformation is only applicable to procurement. Oliver believes that the relationship between businesses and their advisers will dramatically change in the next five years, as it has already changed between businesses and their workforce in the last 20. “Crucially, the day of the multiyear multi-million transformation programs are numbered. Our clients now want to buy what we can offer and what is unique in our case, is our ability to transform procurement departments from the C level to the shop floor. They want three months of work, and for the rest of the time technology that gives them access to the information they need when they need it.”

Ultimately, business is becoming more agile, and the team have no doubt that large consulting firms will adapt to this. Technology is transforming all firm’s interactions, and the vison of Enabling Procurement is certainly one to watch.

Click here to read the full article – EU Business News February 2018 1802EU02