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3 Types of Business Consultants That Are Making Their Mark on the Global Stage
Business consulting is a multi-billion-dollar industry. With rising consumer interest in social responsibility, global security, and native digital content, businesses across the globe are turning to specialized business consultants to increase the efficacy of their organizations.
The evidence lies in the numbers. In 2015, tech consulting, up by 10.5% from 2014, constituted the highest increase in business spending. With the rise of cyber espionage, cybersecurity spending rose to $14 billion in that same year. Meanwhile, according to the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Of these, the digital native millennial is effectively changing how businesses craft their marketing strategies.
In this article, we highlight 3 types of business consultants that are crucial to today’s global industries.
1. Focus Consultant: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Consultant
Target Industry: Renewable/Clean Energy
Industry Challenges: Clean energy industries in Africa face mounting challenges in facilitating the continent’s transfer to a green economy. To date, Africa’s largest wind-farm in Kenya has been touted as a viable solution to Kenya’s electricity crisis.
However, the $700 million Lake Turkana Wind Turbine Project (LTWP) will only be operable in June/July of 2017. The Turkana region’s forbidding terrain, inter-tribal security issues, lack of transportation infrastructure, and the lack of financing proved considerable factors in delaying construction until 2014.
To date, continued advancement of the Turkana project has only been made possible through new, foreign investment. For example, Denmark’s Vestas Wind System is a major supplier for the Kenyan project. Google, no stranger to renewable energy investment in Africa, will acquire 12.7%of the $700 billion project from Vestas once the wind farm is operable. Additionally, international development funds from Norway, Denmark, and Finland have proven crucial to the viability of the project. With foreign investment, however, comes the challenge of incorporating as much local content as possible into multinational endeavors.
The CSR Consultants Solution: In advising client companies, Bain Consulting utilizes a sustainable strategy that incorporates the social and environmental factors of a region. Essentially, Bain leverages the principles of circular economics (as opposed to linear economics) to reinforce its commitment to sustainable corporate investing. While linear economics stresses the traditional “invent-use-dispose” approach, circular economics reinforces the “use-refurbish-recycle” paradigm.
Results: Bain’s approach utilizes both circular and loyalty economics. Based on this approach, Bain was able to help UtilityCo increase its customer retention rate through its Net Promoter System. This strategy of merging profit and purpose is the heart of sustainable business. In light of this, Google’s focus on its external responsibilities to Kenya’s community stakeholders perfectly reproduces Bain’s model of corporate social responsibility. In Turkana, Kenya’s largest and poorest county, hunger and disease inflict continued suffering on defenseless families, while the brutal climate and lack of transportation infrastructure inhibit economic growth.
Google has thus paired its ambitious goal of expanding internet and mobile broadband access in Kenya with its humanitarian goal of facilitating agricultural and education reform in the country. To date, Google’s Project Link has already debuted a metro fiber network in Kampala, Uganda. The fiber network in Uganda will facilitate collegiate-research collaboration and increase local access to good jobs. Likewise in Kenya, Google is strengthening local support for the Turkana project by increasing local access to jobs, improving access to clean water, and upgrading the transportation infrastructure in the region.
To date, the LTWP has trained 18 locals in the principles of solar installation and conservation, built more than 100 miles of road from the work site to Laisamis (one of four constituencies in Marsabit County, where the wind farm is located), and provided almost 1,500 jobs to locals during key periods of the project.
2. Focus Consultant: Security Consultant
Target Industry: Anti-Terror or Global Security
Continent: North America, Asia, Europe, South America
Industry Challenges: The industry continues to face unprecedented security challenges during events of global significance. Whether it is marathons in major metropolitan cities or the Olympics, nervous public officials are turning to security consultants for viable solutions against terrorist threats. After two improvised bombs exploded 12 seconds apart at the Boylston Street finish line during the Boston 2013 Marathon (killing 3 and injuring 264), sponsors of global events have drastically increased spending on security measures. It is estimated that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics may cost a whopping $20-30 billion, with at least $3 billion allocated for security measures.
The Security Consultant Solution: In the industry, security consultants mainly comprise two types: those who only work in an advisory capacity and those who provide both consulting services as well as surveillance equipment/guard services. International Crowd Management (ICM) is an example of the latter.
In 2010, it coordinated security measures with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Richmond city officials for the winter Olympics in British Columbia. For the event, ICM worked with Videofied to install wireless, motion-activated surveillance sensors in the O Zone, reducing the evening guard force to 25% of its original force. Consulting firms such as ICM are increasingly recommending the use of smart tech products to counter terrorist threats.
So, although Olympics committees and host countries are prepared to allocate substantial amounts towards event security, hi-tech surveillance mechanisms are emerging as the next generation of effective, cost-efficient anti-terror solutions.
Results: Specialized surveillance equipment recommended by security firms and a host of multinationals have been utilized with great success at several global events:
- The Brazilian government spent more than $800 million on security during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It deployed Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 drone (an Israeli creation), said to be one of the 5 most lethal drones in the world, Nuctech’s x-ray inspection systems (a Chinese creation), and iRobot Corp’s bomb-defusing robots (an American creation). Brazil isn’t the only South American country to wield the Hermes 900 drone; the Chilean and Colombian Air Forces have also purchased the drones for military surveillance purposes.
- During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government deployed anti-aircraft missiles, Honeywell Security intrusion detectors, GE surveillance gear, the IBM Smart Surveillance System (which kept track of 300,000 cameras that scanned for disruptive activity), and ASK-TongFang RFID chip-embedded tickets. The embedded tickets allowed security professionals to track the movements of ticket-holders.
- Marathons across Europe are now relying on drones and cameras to police the crowds. The recent 2017 London Marathon optimized the use of more than 500,000 CCTV and surveillance cameras to monitor the event.
None of the above events reported terrorist activity, validating the deterrent nature of surveillance mechanisms.
3. Focus Consultant: Media Business Consultants
Target Industry: Consumer Goods Industry
Focus Continents: North America, Asia
Industry Challenges: The Broadband Commission reports that global mobile cellular subscriptions increased to more than 7 billion in 2016. Figures from GSMA Intelligence show that this explosive growth in mobile subscriptions are led by two of the most populous nations in Asia: India and China. Along with the emerging markets of Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, both economic powerhouses will account for 60% of global mobile subscriber growth by the year 2020.
The GSMA report also shows that Asia is matching the rising trend in smartphone adoption in North America and Europe. By 2020, China will report 73% mobile cellular penetration, while the US/Canada and Europe will report 78% and 76% penetration, respectively. These statistics show that global consumers are becoming more entrenched in relying on the mobile internet for news, employment opportunities, and entertainment/lifestyle offerings.
At present, the consumer goods industry’s main challenge is the rise in mobile ad-blocking software. Currently, Adblock Plus has become the main nemesis of websites that rely on ad revenues. Surprisingly, mobile phone subscribers in Asia report greater reliance on pre-installed, ad-blocking software in mobile browsers than subscribers in America. In 2017, 116 million Chinese mobile phone subscribers used ad-blocking software, while the United States reported only 1.7 million smartphone users with ad-blocking software on their phones.
The Media Consultant Solution: The rise of Generation #Hashtag is fueling the popularity of native digital content. As the younger generation’s appetite for such content continues to rise in China and the United States, media consultants such as Bain are recommending new monetization strategies, redesigned 9:16 vertical video ads, as well as targeted content to counter the ad-blocking threat to client profit margins.
Results: Rainbow, the Israeli company formerly known as Shine, has deployed targeted advertising to bypass Generation #Hashtag’s revulsion of ads. The company maintains that it only uses ads that meet industry guidelines and honor privacy rules.
Another millennial-focused company, Mic, relies on branded content to create ads that catch (and hold) Generation #Hashtag’s attention. Even Comedy Central is leveraging branded content to its advantage: it has begun to produce linear commercial pods that highlight sequential, branded stories during typical commercial breaks. Each of these ads features various companies that form part of the linear storyline.
Meanwhile, other companies, such as Spotify, prefer to rely on new subscription-based models to nullify the effects of ad blockers. At present, most mobile phone users can only mute Spotify ads, not block them completely. Spotify still earns revenue from ads, but most of its income originates from Premium subscriptions. In 2015, Spotify earned a little more than $200 million from ads but almost $2 billion from Premium accounts. As the examples show, media consultants are proving crucial in efforts to overcome Generation #Hashtag’s deep aversion to ads.