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Friday, September 22, 2006

The (Slowly) Changing Footprints Of Global Consulting

Tim Matlack of Wipro thinks that the visibility of Indian headquartered companies offering consulting services has increased quite a lot in the recent years. He thinks that one of the reasons that these companies have been successful is because of the commitment they all made to embedding quality processes in the company and running as very, very, centrally disciplined organizations – done both cultural & defensive reasons. Centralization of business planning and business controls helped them impose a certain amount of discipline and rigor, in the process making them very strong. In many cases, it contrasts with the more decentralized kinds of historically partner-based firms where, unfortunately, in the worst examples it was pretty much whatever the particular local partner wanted to do that got done. Three decades back even firms like McKinsey, which in general are among the best-run consulting firms in the world, would tell potential candidates, “Well, you know, LA is this style of operation. It’s a bunch of ex-military guys, and they run it in their own little fiefdoms. And then there’s Chicago, which operates this way. And then nobody goes to Germany who’s a woman, because the Germans don’t like women.” Firms just were that way. And that’s a legacy that still kind of lurks in the background, which is not the case with Indian headquartered firms. In an interview with full of insights he identifies that one of the things being planned within his organization is to develop consulting solutions capable of leveraging offshore talent to a greater degree. His assessment of the business model of other players may be debatable, but nonetheless, it is quite interesting to see his perspective on entering new arenas of consulting, integrating with the larger team and the model for scaling up.

As I see it, one experience for customers is something that was supposed to be unified through methodologies but in consulting too often than not, one sees that the personality and regional traits dominate and so this is yet another innovation that Indian headquartered companies are bringing out. As I wrote earlier, like the seven wonders of the world slowly giving way to the new seven wonders of the world, there is no doubt that the consulting, systems integration and professional services market is changing. A glorious era lay ahead for offshore consulting firms - and in this flat world where one is headquartered may not matter at all..

After all, consulting is about delivered value and it is part of the solution -to-the solution conundrum. All these are happening while the traditional big consulting firms are happy featuring golfers! I also firmly beleive that the offshore headquartered firms need to aggressively invest and build scale to capitalise on this space as well. Natural advatages and incumbent inertia can give a lead only upto a point - only proactve moves could lead to sustained growth.

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