Indeed, you don't need me to remind you of how the current recession is changing the landscape of the business world. And while JP Morgan's recent announcement that tips for meals or taxis should be "up to 15% and no higher" is some indication of the state of things, what I'm talking about is more a shift in how companies (in this case, consulting firms) are doing business, and exactly what kind of business they're doing.
For starters, Accenture just announced a new business unit—one that will specifically deal with low-price contracts (estimated to be roughly 10 percent below its benchmark pricing). In the past, Accenture would have left such projects to its smaller fish competitors, but in this economic climate, no one can afford to pass up opportunities. And if Accenture, the world's third-largest IT services provider, is having to lower its expectations, one can only assume that all others will soon follow, if they haven't already. What's likely to have another big impact on the consulting industry is that Accenture reportedly is now bidding on the same projects as the big Indian outsourcers.
Another area in which consulting firms are vying to stand out is in their greening efforts. Just this week, both Accenture and Tata (an ironic combination, considering the information presented above) announced some news on that front. Tata Group (the parent company of a conglomeration of companies, including Tata Consultancy Services) launched a campaign to minimize its carbon footprint, and appointed McKinsey and Ernst & Young consultants to help them achieve that goal. Accenture, meanwhile, achieved global ISO 14001 certification—an internationally accepted environmental standard, which formalizes the firm's commitment to maintaining green practices. The certification covers 53 Accenture offices around the world, and came in recognition of Accenture's efforts to measure and manage its environmental impact and to train and engage its employees in green practices, as well.
If there's any industry that's nimble enough to make it through trying economic times, it's consulting. It will be interesting to watch the trends that emerge over the next few months and the coming years as firms venture into new terrain and find loopholes to keep their business vibrant.
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