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The Three Challenges of Corporate Consulting

Many managers in traditional product-oriented organizations are struggling to turn their companies into solutions-oriented businesses, widely considered the route to success in the 21st century. A good shortcut may be to establish corporate consultancies — consulting units that offer customers solutions based on the traditional business’s products or expertise. Thus computer companies such as IBM are moving toward integrated information-technology solutions, and telecom-equipment manufacturers such as Nokia are providing turnkey network solutions.

Changing from a product-oriented manufacturer to a customer-focused solutions provider can be rewarding, but because it involves a sweeping reorientation of the organization, it is also difficult. That’s why the less radical approach of a consultative component often works best.

But even that strategy has its challenges, with success depending on determined managers who know what the pitfalls are and how to avoid them. Without firm management, the consultancy may be swept away by forces that draw it too far into the product business or too far away from it.

By thinking through the mission, identity and structure challenges and choosing the right strategy for handling them, leaders can both manage the consultative component and attain synergies between the product-centric business and the corporate consultancy’s customer solutions.

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