Canada, the tortoise to America’s hare?
Friday 7th Jul, 2017
By Zoë Stumpf.
It must be very irritating to be Canadian and be constantly taken to be American—at least by foreigners unfamiliar with nuances of accent. The good news for the Canada consulting market is that there’s no real danger of that type of confusion happening: Not only is the market a fraction of the size of that of its southern neighbour, it’s also very different in its make-up. Take digital transformation as an example. In the US—arguably the world’s most digitally mature consulting market—digital has become a vast behemoth accounting for a huge 25% of the total market, driving work across all service lines and encompassing all industries. In Canada, it’s a different, rather more modest story, with digital work accounting for less than 6% of the market and the largest share of the work falling to strategy consultants. Indeed, the fact that digital projects now account for a very large proportion of all strategy work in Canada suggests that digital is something people are talking about a lot more than something they’re acting on.
But “different” does not, of course, equate to “worse”. Indeed, there’s always a disadvantage in being a first mover. Speculative investments in unproven technologies can sometimes fail to offer the hoped-for payback, and thinking can quickly move on, allowing the more patient to leapfrog the trailblazers. With this in mind, Canadian clients could well benefit from the lessons learned by their US counterparts about the importance of ensuring that they extract value from their digital investment. They also have the opportunity to benefit from relatively new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics now gaining prominence, providing them with the tools to transform the back office, rather than just focusing, as is traditional in the early stages of digital, on changing the front-end.
Although the Canada consulting market is unlikely to look anything like the US market anytime soon—if not ever—it’s not out of the question to assume that the development of its digital market will really accelerate. Indeed, perhaps it won’t be too long until digital has the same importance, relatively speaking, as in the US.
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