The global pandemic has accelerated digital transformation on an unprecedented scale. Across the world, businesses are swiftly (or reluctantly) embracing digital and the new insights and opportunities it provides.
This digital shift is having a strong impact on the Professional Services sector, with many firms facing difficult decisions on how to adapt and evolve their internal structure and approach to client relationships. Even firms that operate within the digital sphere are still reconsidering the state of their businesses and the services they offer their clients.
The catalyst for this change has been the digital transformation of client businesses. A fundamental part of digital transformation is the integration of data into both everyday processes and long-term strategy. As more Professional Services clients fully embrace digital, the more they discover the power of data.
Across nearly every industry, clients now have access to a wealth of data, which they use to analyse performance, make strategic decisions, and restructure their business using data-driven insights. The rise of data has a knock-on impact on consultancy and outsourcing firms. The client relationship is now even more strictly defined by metrics, milestones and KPIs – success is now data-driven. If Professional Services wishes to continue to meet client needs, maintain their existing relationships, and cultivate new business, they must leverage data. Data is the tool that empowers firms to develop a deeper understanding of their client and enhance their internal structure and operations.
The rise of the ‘as-a-service’ model
The traditional client relationship is changing. The new face of Professional Services is already emerging, as the Big Four accounting firms have been instructed to split off their audit arms in the next four years. This major change for those organisations reflects a wider trend within the sector. The certainty of large, long-term contracts has been replaced by a trend towards services offered on a project-by-project basis and aggressive competition from specialised firms.
Smaller, industry-specific, agile firms are proving a threat to more established players in the sector. These bespoke operations are often oriented around industry-specific insight, compensating for smaller staff with specialised skillsets, augmented by the use of data, AI and automation. These market challengers provide a similar service with a limited headcount and smaller budget – a tempting prospect for any client looking to cut costs.
For conventional firms to catch up to their more dynamic rivals, they must embrace digital innovation and learn the lessons these smaller firms can offer. They must harness the power of data to become more client-centric.
Data must become a central touchpoint within any Professional Services firm. To truly become client-centric, companies have to leverage data to provide faster results, greater innovation, and industry-specific insights. Professional Services firms must coordinate locally and operate on a global scale, ensuring that every team in every location has a 360-degree view of the client. By breaking down internal silos and aligning fragmented teams, firms can create a new, client-centric definition of success – no matter where teams operate or what role they perform.
Embedding data across the organisation also minimises the risk of a significant historical hurdle for Professional Services firms – retaining and consolidating Intellectual Property. The traditional partner model means significant knowledge, expertise and IP can be lost when partners change roles, retire, or leave the firm. But when this knowledge is documented and turned into actionable insights and data, every team member can benefit.
Fundamentally, the switch to data represents a shift from a highly traditional business model to a dynamic, agile one. The traditional client relationship is changing, and firms must adapt to remain competitive, maintain client loyalty and identify new revenue opportunities.
The future of data for professional services
Empowered by connected data both internally and as part of the client relationship, Professional Services firms are free to do their best work. Expertise is backed up by rock-solid data, enabling firms to offer deeper insights and more holistic service to their clients. Teams can grow their knowledge and expertise, be more valuable partners, and demonstrate their value to clients.
Salesforce enables Professional Services companies to manage this digital change. Our industry-specific, Client-Centric Performance platform lays the strong foundation, unifying data across the whole firm and democratising access across the company. Without traditional silos, companies can move faster and more dynamically – which, in turn, builds fruitful, long-term client relationships. Supported by Salesforce engagement tools, staff are able to respond more effectively to every client – while rich data ensures the firm is delivering on client expectations and finding new opportunities for business development. Data is the tool that ultimately maximises performance – and revenue – for Professional Services firms.
You can learn more about how Salesforce empowers Professional Services firms through data.