The Seven Megatrends of Professional Services

Ross_dawson_1There are seven megatrends that are transforming professional services firms.  According to futurist and author Ross Dawson, CEO of Advanced Human Technologies in San Francisco, they include:

  1. Growing client sophistication.  This creates pressure from them to reduce professional firm fees.
  2. A focus on governance.  Sarbanes-Oxley, for example, specifically legislates how audit firms can work with their clients.
  3. Connectivity. Thanks to Blackberrys, mobile phones and instant messaging, clients expect faster responses and more informal interactive communication.
  4. Transparency.  Clients want to see what is happening while their professionals are at work and how they are doing it.
  5. Modularization. Professional services must be "unbundled," or broken down into their components.  This allows clients to choose which elements they prefer to do themselves.
  6. Globalization.  Clients are outsourcing professional work overseas to cheaper providers, and clients also expect services to be delivered globally.
  7. Commoditization. Clients believe that professionals have equivalent expertise, and as a result bid out work so that professional firms must compete on price.

Dawson says the most important megatrend is the swift advance of technology.  "The challenge for professional firms today is both to implement technologies that give them great flexibility in their business operations, and to ... create extraordinary business success."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For example, Ernst & Young has a suite of online services to help clients manage risk, including a board governance tool that identifies and analyzes risks.  The U.K. law firm Pinsent Mason offers software to determine whether a case that is worth the cost of litigation. Baker Botts has created an online club for clients, the Texas Energy Project, centered on a firm extranet.

The Seven Megatrends white paper can be downloaded at for free.

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