Video: Why professional services leaders need to think about the future

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Leading up to the Client and Firms of the Future: How to Compete conference in Sydney on March 11 (which I discussed in a previous blog post), my co-organiser George Beaton and I have recorded a brief video to set the scene.

In the video we begin by addressing the question: Why do professional services leaders need to think about the future? and go on to discuss what to expect at the conference.

Points we make in the video include:
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Creating the future of professional services – Sydney 11 March

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The subtitle of my first book, 15 years ago now, was ‘The future of professional services’. I still believe it’s an incredibly important topic, not just in the future of business, but also in the future of work and society.

As such I am delighted to be collaborating with one of the world’s leaders in professional services strategy, George Beaton, in organising the Clients and Firms of the Future: How to Compete conference in Sydney on 11 March.
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Professional services relationships as the primary portal to value creation

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A week ago I gave a keynote to a relatively small but rapidly growing professional services firm on the occasion of their 10th birthday celebration, to help them think about their next decade of business.

My presentation began with macro trends, then drilled into shifts in the professional services landscape, and finally onto the leadership required to create the future of professional services.

The theme that the group picked up on the most which drove our ensuing conversation was how they could tap external experts to generate value for clients.
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Trend: offshore service centers driving innovation and revenue

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Last week I gave a keynote on Mega Change: Tomorrow is Here at the NASSCOM Global In-House Center Conclave at Pune in India.

Global In-House Centers (GIC) describes offshore service and processing centers that are run and owned by the parent company. While business process and IT services have long been outsourced to offshore service providers, as many firms have chosen to establish their own centers, not least to maintain full control of operations and standards.

It was a fascinating event, bringing together the leaders in the space. GICs in India generate $15.5 billion in revenue and employ over half a million people.

Often GICs provide not low-level processing functions but highly sophisticated functions. Some of the world’s largest multi-nationals locate the global cream of their technologists and data scientists in India.

The next phase is for GICs to go beyond cost arbitrage on support to drive innovation and higher-value functions, as shown in this diagram from a recent NASSCOM report on GICs in India.

GICgoals
Source: NASSCOM/ Deloitte
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Emerging markets professionals are at the vanguard of the future of professional work

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A very interesting global survey title The Professional Revolution has just been released by Thomson Reuters (Disclosure: I long ago worked for its predecessor Thomson Financial as Global Director – Capital Markets).

The report uncovers a number of very interesting insights into professionals and professional work. One of the most interesting is the differences between emerging market and developed market professionals.

The most interesting statistics from the report, shown below, show emerging market professionals demonstrating clear leadership in creating the future of professional work.

Source of all charts is the report The Professional Revolution.

ThomsonProfessional1
Emerging market professionals are substantially more entrepreneurial than their developed market counterparts, wanting to drive change and initiatives, and preferring a competitive environment. They also recognize there is no conflict between competition and collaboration, and that collaborative work is the essence of professional growth and work satisfaction.
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Economic structural change is NOT industry compositional change

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I am currently preparing a number of keynotes for senior business audiences over coming weeks. In preliminary conversations with one group I encountered a very common and deeply misleading view of how business is changing today.

We engaged in discussions on “economic structural change”, that were in fact only about changes in industry composition. The mindset was to consider the changes in relative sizes of industries in the economy, such as manufacturing getting smaller and tourism becoming larger. This perspective is prevalent with economists, who like to predicts shifts in industries over time.

However this is a deeply fallacious perspective in thinking about change in the economy.
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Professional services will be at the heart of our economic future

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Last night was the announcement of the winners of the annual BRW Client Choice Awards.

Each year Beaton Consulting compiles the opinions of large professional service clients – this year 40,000 of them – who collectively select the best professional service firms in Australia. The results are announced at a gala dinner and published in BRW magazine.

The full list of winners is here. The magazine’s lead article on the awards Client choice awards: Savvy, digital, global: the face of the new professional, provides interesting insights into the state of the professions in Australia.

I gave the guest keynote at the event, with the intent of providing inspirational yet light-hearted perspectives on the awards.

My theme was “Creating Australia’s Future”, about how professional services firms are at the heart of Australia’s (and all developed countries’) future.
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Thinking about the future: Why predictions usually (but not always) have negative value

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A few days ago I spoke at the opening dinner of a strategy offsite for a professional firm, on the topic of ‘Thinking About The Future‘. It is a very common style of engagement for me, being briefed to set the broadest possible mental frame for executives before their in-depth discussions on directions for the business. The session went extremely well in provoking some very interesting conversations during the evening, and I gather driving new thinking through the rest of the offsite.

Just before I spoke the executive group had heard from a well-known economist who was giving them economic forecasts for the next 10 years.

As such, in my presentation I explained why forecasts usually have negative value. I spent a long time working in financial markets, and I have seen market and economic forecasts tremendously abused.

The most important point is that almost all forecasts will turn out to be wrong. The future is unpredictable. Giving numerical values to future economic or market data can easily shut down useful thinking about the reality of uncertainty and the range of possibilities that may transpire.
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The future of academic certification: universities, MOOCs, aggregators, and peer reputation

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This morning I gave the opening keynote at the Virtual Universities: Impact on Accounting Education Thought Leadership forum in Adelaide, organized by the Centre of Accounting, Governance and Sustainability at University of South Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia. The audience was an invitation-only group of the most senior accounting academics and industry practitioners in the country.

My keynote was on the broad global context for the current changes in education. After looking at major technological, social and structural changes, the future of work, and shifts in learning, I turned to the role of certification and credentials.

The rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has helped bring into focus that universities have to date always bundled together three things:
– Education;
– Certification; and
– Networking.

The rise of Open Courseware and more recently services such as Coursera, Udacity and edX has now broken out (part of) the education piece.
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The 5 elements that enable expertise networks to flourish

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Last week I gave a keynote at an internal conference of a large technology services firm that has recently acquired another firm. The conference brought together senior executives and managers from the two organizations so they could get to know each other and plan how they would work together with existing and new clients.

A significant part of my role was to provide a highly upbeat, optimistic, engaging perspective on the future of business. However I also wanted to address the specific issues they would be encountering in combining their capabilities.

Many years ago when I was working with a large law firm to help them develop their client relationship and cross-selling capabilities, I created a simple framework, shown below.

The fundamental issue for any significant professional firm is to match the best possible capabilities in the organization with the relevant opportunities for value creation at their clients.

This begins at the interface with the client. Whoever has any interaction with the client, including the relationship leader and relationship team, has responsibility to identify and bring to the client the most relevant capabilities of the firm. However there are 5 key steps that are required for that to happen.


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