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New research: The management consulting conundrum

An Economist Intelligence Unit survey reveals that business leaders at large companies want value for money and specialised expertise from their consultants

The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed more than 100 senior business leaders with responsibility for spend on management consulting at multinational companies with annual revenues of over $1 billion in the US, UK and Europe. The research sought to better understand their relationships with external consultancies. Read the full report to learn about trends in management consulting spend and forward-looking priorities for leading organizations around the world.


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Key insights

  • Almost half (45%) of business leaders who primarily work with management consultants say the main challenge they face from their external service provider is cost.
  • More than eight in ten (83%) said service providers with specialised expertise will be more valuable to their company than providers with a broad range of offerings five years from now.
  • Three-quarters (76%) believe SME service providers with fewer than 500 employees will have an important role in their firm over the next five years. Almost one in six (59%) of respondents say a stronger value proposition is the reason they would choose to work with SME service providers instead of large management consultancies in the next year.
  • Over the next five years, over two-thirds (68%) say they plan to increase spending on cyber security and over half (52%) say they plan to increase spending on data analytics.

"The price-to-quality ratio of working with outside firms is always changing, and you need to find the balance... Small guys are motivated to try harder."

-Andrea Castronovo, a former sales strategy executive at BMW