Project Tech is coming: is your firm ready for it?

At the start of the 90s, British music was in something of a rut. Many of the bands that defined the Madchester scene of the late 80s had imploded spectacularly; the charts were dominated by American imports like Nirvana. It was against this backdrop that groups like Blur, Oasis, and Pulp decided to try something different.

Rejecting the general dourness of the grunge era, they started writing brighter, catchier songs that drew inspiration from the British Invasion bands of the 60s. But it wasn’t until radio DJ Stuart Maconie coined the term “Britpop” in 1993 that the trend properly took off. Many of these groups had already been around for a while but once the term was set loose into the world, suddenly, it was all the music press wanted to talk about. Everyone was on the hunt for the next great Britpop group.

When a seismic transformation is taking place, it can be hard to understand or even acknowledge that transformation until someone gives us a vocabulary to describe it. And that’s why we think it’s so important that consulting firms start to embrace the language of “Project Tech”.

Analogous terms like Legal Tech and FinTech have been around for many years now. But the delivery of consulting projects had proved strangely resistant to digitisation. Even as consultants preached to clients the necessity of embracing digital ways of working, they themselves clung on to methodologies and tools that had remained more or less unchanged since the twentieth century.

Now, however, that seems to be changing. COVID-19 may have forced firms’ hands but, even before the pandemic, consultants seemed to be giving a closer look to the wide range of software products that now exists to facilitate project delivery. That includes everything from project management software to data visualisation tools, and from interactive PowerPoint alternatives to client-facing project dashboards.

Technology looks to play a much bigger role in the delivery of projects going forward. And that raises some big questions about the future of consulting. In particular: Who is going to end up being the source of that technology? It’s easy to imagine a situation in which one of the big firms decides that building an infrastructure that could underpin consulting work around the world might be more lucrative than continuing to do that work themselves. In other words, we could soon see the first “platform consultancies” start to emerge.

Project Tech has clearly opened up new pathways to growth for firms that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Firms can either start taking this new market seriously or risk missing out on some of the most exciting opportunities the industry has seen for decades.