2023 is already proving to be a pivotal year for law firms. Continued headwinds from economic volatility and geopolitical uncertainty are macro forces that firms have faced before. But now, with the rapid acceleration of emerging technologies and a workforce forever changed by the pandemic, opportunities to gain a competitive edge are both more abundant and more complex. Leading the charge are legal CIOs who are helping their firms understand and embrace technologies to drive better insights, support more data-informed decision making, enable modern collaboration, and provide better service to clients.
For today’s professional services and capital markets firms, migration to more advanced digital operations is no longer an option; it’s table stakes.
Leading firms across legal, accounting, consulting, investment banking, and private capital markets are leveraging technology in truly transformative ways — empowering their professionals, exploring new business models, and gaining a competitive edge along the way.
Technology is now a REVENUE driver for consulting firms: 50% of all consulting services will contain digital products by 2025 – and 30% of firms believe that more than half of their revenue already depends on their tech stack.
This is also reflected in the rising tech investments by professional services firms – which 72% of firms focus on their front office and front-to-back integrations.
“Our industry is based on trust and growth – and facing the challenge of attracting fantastic talent. Your article demonstrates the relevance of technology in that context”, says Christian Rast, Global Head of Technology & Knowledge at KPMG in reference to my latest article published in Harvard Business manager together with my co-authors Prof. Dr. Markus Kreutzer (EBS Universität für Wirtschaft und Recht) and Stephan Kaufmann (Workday).
The past two years have shown that consulting services do NOT need to be delivered on-site for clients by default. Based on our survey across representatives from 40 consulting firms, we can see that 60% of firms plan to deliver at least 50% virtually – some 25% even want to provide more than two-thirds of their work remotely.
This has far-reaching implications on the way consulting services and solutions are architected and sold. 86% expect significant changes here. It puts the technology backbone of the firm and the modern workplace for professionals at the center of attention. But what are the consequences for the management and leadership of professional services firms? What does it take to become and operate as a more digital „connected firm“?
Technology is moving to the center of attention across professional and business services – and firms are spending more and more, not just absolutely but also relative to their revenue. If solely treated as a cost position, it becomes a race to the bottom. Instead, if considered a revenue driver and managed as an integral part of your firm’s P&L, technology paves the way for new business models, growth, and profitability.
As of today, it is quite unlikely that professional services firms will dial back on their technology investments – instead, we even see increasing technology investments in order to keep up with a faster evolving competitive landscape. Gartner predicts an annual growth of 5 to 15% for the technology spend of professional services firms – even factoring in the steadily decreasing unit costs for many technologies (e.g., storage, processing, etc.). As firms work through the selection, implementation and adoption of more and more systems and tools, it is obvious that there is barely a true alternative to a “cloud first” strategy.
An unlikely new key player within ProfessionalServiceFirms is slowly crawling into the spotlight: Procurement.
This often immature function and role, which until today has mostly dwelled in the back-office, administrative shadows of knowledge-based firms, is evolving as cornerstone of strategy execution for lawfirms, consulting, accounting, or marketing service providers. Why? Well, read my article on this emerging topic.