Consulting for the people, German style

I’m a big fan of Germany. That’s probably just as it should be: My surname is German, as are (perhaps more importantly) some members of my family. It’s also hard not to have huge admiration for a country that keeps all its best wines purely for domestic consumption. However, my respect for German attitudes has grown even further on the back of research that we conducted recently for our DACH report on trends and growth in the German, Austrian, and Swiss consulting market.

The reason for my ever-growing enthusiasm for all things German is that it turns out that quite a number of senior German consultants feel that they need to lead the debate about the impact of robotics and AI on the future workforce. I know that this is the topic of many news stories the world over, with widespread concern about the potential disappearance of a number of white-collar jobs, and those of us with children trying to steer them towards future-proofed careers (apparently hairdressing is a safe bet).

However, in most of the markets we research, it remains just that—a concern. Indeed, having spoken to many senior consultants in many countries over the last few months, I can report with some confidence that there aren’t many who are talking about how they are developing solutions that will help address RPA on a social level, facilitating round tables with C-suite attendees to work out what to do about the issue, or otherwise thinking about how they can contribute to the debate. But in Germany, consultants are doing just that. Perhaps this has something to do with deeply embedded pride in Germany’s low unemployment rate, something that has been hard won through a huge focus on labour relations and a raft of other government policies in recent years. Perhaps it’s just that we have been speaking to some particularly nice people in Germany. Whatever the reason for this group of consultants being such socially aware trailblazers, surely this is an approach that could benefit other markets, too. It needn’t just be about making the world a better, more socially aware place, either. Clearly, consulting firms can benefit from taking the lead here and spurring the business world into action—after all, there could be a good deal of work that ensues. And who knows? They might just make the world a better place, too.