By Rachel Duk.
I confess: I was utterly enchanted by Disney’s remake of their classic film Beauty and the Beast. In common with my fellow cinema-goers, I sought solace from the ongoing political debacles in the UK in a French wonderland of singing candlesticks and talking teacups. And in a happy coincidence, my mind was allowed to linger in that particular universe for a little longer, as the next day I boarded a Paris-bound Eurostar to talk to some of our customers about the France consulting market. While I prepared myself for the day ahead—the soundtrack still ringing in my ears—it began to dawn on me just how many parallels existed between Beauty and the Beast and the France consulting market.
For those of you not familiar with the tale (and if not, your cinema tickets are in the post), the central narrative of romance and inner beauty is underpinned by themes of change and innovation, particularly how we work with those two elements when they are thrust upon us. Just like the villagers in the film’s small provincial town, consultants and clients in France grappled with a year of huge change in 2016. A constant state of disruption characterised the state of play in several industries, and digitally-savvy new entrants galvanised incumbent clients into action after a period of digital resistance. Indeed, as clients embraced the new world of digital, they leapfrogged many other markets by progressing straight to a focus on back-office technologies and solutions that could generate efficiency and value. Indeed, with everyone now firmly focused on shiny new technologies, it may only be a matter of time before the last petal falls for legacy and ERP systems.*
We also see echoes of France’s consulting market in the ambitions of Belle, the film’s feisty female lead—whose love of reading, sarcastic edge, and independent spirit make her very much Source’s style of heroine. Belle recognises the limitations of her provincial town and knows that opportunity is out there in the “great wide somewhere”. It’s a sentiment that’s very familiar to French consultants, many of whom sought relief from an uninspiring domestic economy by chasing growth opportunities overseas. Consulting firms wanted international clients, and clients in turn wanted international firms—a preference that benefited the largest firms, which could field strong global networks. Nonetheless, just as Belle realises—at the film’s conclusion—that France has much to offer (helped in large part by her rugged—and somewhat furry—love interest), so too are a segment of consulting firms finding that medium-sized domestic clients can provide the gateway to opportunities at home and abroad. For firms that don’t have an established global presence, international expansion in parallel with their clients is proving to be a successful route to winning long term work.
Partnership is also a big trend in the France consulting market’s competitive landscape. Even the biggest firms are realising they can’t do it all, and the creation of ecosystems and partnerships with a range of providers have enabled firms to provide a greater breadth of services to their clients. It’s a model that the film’s characters would wholeheartedly endorse. No spoilers here: but let’s just say that everyone could benefit from a singing wardrobe on their team.
Partnerships, innovation, embracing change, and a global outlook: It was a recipe for success that led to the best year France’s consulting market has seen for some time. Our report on the market is now available and contains much more information about all these topics, but far fewer Beauty and the Beast references (“fewer” = “none”—but don’t let that put you off).
*I can only apologise, but it had to be done.
Click here to find out more about our report on the France consulting market.