The future of professional services lies in amplifying networks


In all my extensive work in professional services, I have long focused on the powerful role of networks in success and value creation. The central role of networks in professional services is now being amplified even further.

This is one of the points that came out in the fascinating conversation I had with Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and Hans Kroes, Global VP and Head of the Industry Business Unit for Professional Services at SAP in a webcast on Transformative Trends Influencing the Professional Services Industry. 

You can watch the full webcast below. More comments on the intensifying role of networks in professional services below.

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The future of professional services in data, platforms, and ecosystems


I recently had a fantastic conversation on the Industry Insights by SAP podcast, talking with Matt Emmert, Solution Director of Professional Services at SAP, and host Tom Raftery about the future of professional services. You can listen to the entire 22 minute session here.

A central theme to our discussion was the role of data in professional services and the broader implications. 
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The coming rise of virtual professional service firms in a COVID world


I have been thinking and writing about the rise of virtual professional service firms for over two decades, since my first book.

Professional services are, by definition, delivered by experienced professionals. While there are significant reasons for teams of professionals creating value for clients to be co-located, they very often are not, even in traditional firms.

From the beginning of our highly connected century companies like Axiom Legal have been helping clients access top-tier professionals without the unnecessary and substantial costs of office space and partner leverage (i.e. paying for the partners’ new sports cars when an associate is doing the work).
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In the age of AI, relationship scope will drive value in professional services


I recently spoke to a group of senior partners responsible for a major law firm’s relationships with its top 50 clients.

The session was primarily framed around helping the partners understand the degree and nature of the shifts impacting their major clients in industries such as financial services, mining, construction, and infrastructure.

However I also delved into the impact of new technologies including AI on the delivery of high-end professional services, a topic I have been doing substantial work on recently with several clients.

The impact of AI on professional services

There are many specific issues stemming from the rise of AI and automation in professional services delivery, including the modularization of what have often been aggregated services, increased choice on service providers, changes in pricing models, and shifts in the relative roles of junior and senior professionals.
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Engineering serendipity is the future of associations


Last week I gave a keynote on The Future of Associations at the annual Board of Directors Retreat for one of the world’s largest professional associations, held in the delightful venue of Panama City.

Having been involved in the events, thought leadership initiatives and awards of a wide variety of associations over the years, I have long thought that there is massive untapped potential value in many associations’ member networks.

The disruption of associations

Over the last 5-10 years many associations have been challenged by a confluence of powerful forces undermining their established positions.
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How to use a futurist to create value: shifting executive thinking


Liz Alexander of Leading Thought has recently published an interesting free ebook titled How to Use a Futurist, which compiles examples of how 24 futurists have created value for clients.

This was my contribution to the ebook (5MB pdf):
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Launch: Timeline for the future structure of the legal services industry


Our shared passion for the future of professional services has led George Beaton and I to collaborate on projects over many years.

George has long expressed his view that the traditional “BigLaw” model for legal services firms is under severe threat. He has just launched his latest book Remaking Law Firms to provide clear guidance on how law firms can adjust and reshape themselves for success in a rapidly changing world.

Drawing on the concept of my Newspaper Extinction Timeline, George and I collaborated to create a timeline for the changing structure of the legal services industry over the next decade and beyond across different geographies.

The full description to the legal services timeline describes in detail the mega-forces shaping the industry, the research methodology, and the outcomes.

Here are the legal services industry timelines we created for five regions, with below the charts descriptions of the types of legal services providers referenced.

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The rise of global remote work will impact health, education, and far more


Today’s Australian Financial Review featured a section Transformation Agenda, including an article based on an interview with me, Health and education sectors the next to feel online disruption.

After opening with a discussion of connected work and marketplaces such as and Upwork, the article goes on:

According to business consultant and futurist, Ross Dawson it’s a trend gathering pace within professional services like business consultancy, marketing strategy, IT services, even engineering and law. “Knowledge work can now be done anywhere.” he says.

It appears that this is another emerging sector where Australia is leading the way.

Sydney-based firms Expert360 and Skillsapien support two of the leading digital marketplaces for professional services, both of which Dawson sees as signalling a transition to “virtual” organisations.

“What is the role of the organisation today?” he asks. “Do they need to have offices with people sitting together? Is that the best way to source the best ideas?”

With the emergence of massive online platforms connecting millions of people it would seem not.

The article goes on to draw on my comments to look at many of the examples of how connected work is disrupting health, including CrowdMed,, and Dr Sicknote, and then closes with my comments on the impact on education, from an Australian perspective.

In the case of education, the online learning genie is out of the bottle, Dawson notes, with Australian institutions well placed to capitalise on it.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have been around for some time with a fair degree of competition. But new opportunities are appearing in areas like professional certification, for which Australian institutions are well regarded.

“Education is and will continue to be one of Australia’s greatest exports,” Dawson says, noting that Australia’s fondness for and skills in developing digital channels will breed further opportunities in this and other knowledge-driven sectors.

Work can be done anywhere. We have reached the point where professions of all kinds will be increasingly practised remotely. While we need to ensure that potential problems are minimized, we also need to acknowledge the massive social upsides. This shift is inevitable.

Six characteristics supporting excellence in service delivery innovation


Last Friday, after delivering the breakfast keynote at CPA Congress in Brisbane (more on that in another post), I ran a half-day workshop at the partner offsite of a national accounting firm network on the theme of Disruption and Innovation in Professional Services.

I spent some time giving the partners current perspectives on both disruption and innovation in professional services, with the rest of the time spent facilitating the group in generating and prioritizing initiatives to drive the members firms’ future.

I ran through the domains in which they can enhance their business models and performance. However in professional services probably the most important domain is service delivery, in which extraordinary possibilities for innovation have opened up in the network economy.

I have just recalled that eight years ago I co-authored a white paper for SAP titled Service Delivery Innovation: Creating Client Value and Enhancing Profitability. While it is not recent, the issues I covered are still completely relevant today, so I thought I’d share a section from the white paper here:
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The future of law firms: new structures, virtualization, fluid talent, social media-driven reputation


A little while ago an article The future for law firms: virtual law firms, legal outsourcing and the battle for talent appeared in Thomson Legal reporting on some of my thoughts on where the legal industry is headed.

The article opens:
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