22 February 2018

The UK consulting industry grew by a healthy 5% to £9 billion in 2016 although there will be plenty of challenges and opportunities ahead.

An inevitable digital disruption is upon us and clients across industries are turning to consultancies to help navigate them through this change. For professional services, there are three areas where significant growth is anticipated, include robotic process automation (RPA), cyber security and general data protection regulation (GDPR) in 2018.


Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA is a field that has enormous potential, according to a recent report the market is estimated to exceed $5 billion by 2024 at a healthy CAGR of c.29%. Industries that are expected to experience the largest growth in RPA are healthcare and pharmaceutical followed by banking and financial services. Designed in nature to mimic human actions, RPA can handle all routine repetitive workloads, creating a virtual workforce. As a result of automating a large number of repetitive tasks, new roles could be created for workers to do the kind of human interactions they do best at customer/client touchpoints.

High efficiency combined with reduced costs are the key factors driving the global IT robotic automation market. As many as 60% of all work activities could be automated by 2055, McKinsey & Company has projected in their research. Robots can also work 24 hours across 365 days a year resulting in unrestricted productivity achieving significant reductions in cost, time and labour. A challenge for the RPA market could be a lack of knowledge and technical expertise associated with its deployment and integration.


Cyber Security

As businesses evolve through digitalisation, the complexity of their security environment has to be very adaptable. Cyber-criminals are increasingly using sophisticated tools at their disposal to infiltrate businesses - this is reflected in the demand for highly-skilled cyber security staff as a line of defense. Zion Market Research’s report predicted that the global cyber security market share will reach $181.77 billion by 2021.

That being said, cyber security is an area suffering from a huge skills gap. In a recent study by the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education sponsored by (ISC)² it revealed that there will be 1.8 million unfilled cyber security jobs by 2022. Businesses have seen an estimated loss of $280 billion globally last year and to prevent this figure from rising in the future, demand for cyber security staff is predicted to experience a 36% increase by 2024. Consequently, risk and regulatory consulting has seen strong growth as a result of increased cyber-attacks and preparation for GDPR.


GDPR

Data management will become one of the biggest challenges facing businesses, forcing them to build appropriate strategies that can support future requirements. In terms of GDPR, it is estimated that FTSE100 companies could be fined $5 billion if they are found to be non-compliant. A study from 2016 predicted the number of DPOs required under GDPR across Europe alone would be, at least, 28,000. Seven months into 2017, a poll was conducted by Veritas revealing that only 31% of business decision-makers worldwide believed their organisations were compliant with GDPR.

Artificial intelligence could play a crucial role in regulatory compliance as AI can identify and process relevant data whilst understanding the intent or purpose of specific parts in the documents. To stay competitive, businesses are now looking to hire data science specialists, however demand is projected to exceed supply by more than 50% by 2018.

According to PwC “re-tooling”, or learning new skills “will become the norm” for older workers to adapt to these technological shifts. The need for automation and productivity enhancements will be driven by a short supply of human workforces in a number of rapidly-ageing economies.

Nonetheless, we could be looking at an entirely different workplace than the one we know today. Physical and cultural changes to organisations could occur in every industry and consultancy will be at the front, as a guiding beacon through digital transformation. 

Richard Draper
Managing Director at Rees Draper Wright