Consulting firms are under pressure. They generate lower margins, face tough recruiting challenges, and feel their services becoming commoditized like never before.
A small Australian firm, Expert360, is embracing the trend toward commoditizing high-level management consulting services by offering a web-enabled, human-powered solution. The firm was founded by two former Bain consultants and connects companies facing strategic problems to experienced management consultants through an online portal.
It’s a simple process. Companies submit a brief describing their project online, individual contractors are recruited to apply, and the client interviews and hires the best of the group. If you have ever used oDesk or eLance, you will recognize the model right away. Bring that concept to a higher level, and you have another challenge to the traditional model as the field becomes more commoditized. According toForbes, Expert360 consultants earn $1,100 per day on average, and typical projects run a little shy of $30,000.
The Expert360 model is not going to put traditional consulting firms out of business, but the firm does offer a way for other companies to deal with the commoditization of their industry. Consider the possibilities of larger firms creating online communities of independent consultants, or smaller firms using a shared services model to pool and draw from a group of consulting resources. Another idea is that firms could create separate divisions to offer a different level of service to the same client in order to maintain high-level relationships, while satisfying the staff augmentation needs of their clients.
With the US consulting market growing at a rate of $4B per year, the time is right to consider new ways of engaging underused talent, such as the thousands of independent consultants who have a lot to offer, but who haven’t been able to connect to the right opportunities. Expert360 takes a step in the right direction by helping companies and individual consultants connect to face the business challenges of today.
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