Professional services are the future of the economy


When I was in Singapore recently to deliver a keynote for a client, I was interviewed by Radio Singapore International.

Click here for the transcript and podcast of the interview on the Radio Singapore website – the complete interview is also below.

While it was a brief interview focused on professional services, a few themes emerged. One is that the economy is shifting to be predominantly based on professional services. Products and technology-based services are increasingly commoditized, however specialist expertise is becoming more valuable. If a professional has truly world class expertise, it doesn’t matter where he or she is located. However collaboration – or what I term knowledge-based relationships – is what makes that professional expertise valuable.

In short, the future of the global economy will increasingly be focused on professional services, not in the narrow sense of law, accounting, consulting and so on, but in the broader sense of deep specialist expertise applied to create value. The art and science of managing professional services firms and economies is a critical domain.

Here is the interview transcript:

Join me, Melanie Yip in Business Ideas this week as I speak with Ross Dawson, CEO of international consulting firm Advanced Human Technologies to find out.

RD: Traditionally, professional services have been what we think of as professions – law, accounting, consulting and so on. Yet, more and more professional services are becoming a larger part of the economy. Today, 82% of the US economy is professional services. It is also a wide variety of other services. But what professional services are about nowadays is the application of specialist knowledge. As the economy advances, and more information is available, a professional is one who has deep specialist knowledge. And it helps their clients as a result of that.

Now, let us look at the response or the need for professional services, what are the reasons that companies need to adopt such professional services?

RD: From the very early days, the economy is all about people saying that they will do what they are best at. So, rather than growing all our own food, we can go to the shops and find people who have been growing that. In the economy today, we need many people that have specialist expertise – in design, in building, in marketing or in building websites and so on. These are professionals that we go to. What is happening in the economy is that increasingly, we as individuals or organizations, we do only what we are best at. That means we can go and search for people around the world who are specialist, they can do what they want, so one example is on, this is an online service. And if you want some translation, some writing, or some translations or web development, you can go on and ask for anyone around the world to put in their bids, and they can choose whoever is going to do the best jobs at the lowest price. These are professionals working globally.

And how much as advanced technology like the internet added to the development of professional services? And how do some of these developments actually look like?

RD: Well, the internet has changed it in many ways. And the first is because of communications technology, we can collaborate with people. We can get people who provide such services from anywhere around the planet, which means that if you are a professional. You have to be world class. You have to be the best in your field. Otherwise, people will go to others who can provide better services. But if you are world class, you can go to people no matter where they are around the planet. I’m in Singapore to speak for a client, Epicor Software, you know, who’s brought me to Singapore to talk about professional services and the latest trends in professional services. They are trying to draw on the best expertise.

Well, you mentioned about the future. How does the future of professional services look like?

RD: One, bcause it is becoming more and more global, some of these services are becoming commodities. So we can say, well, a basic website is something which is a commodity, and I can search anybody in the world who can provide that. So what it means is where the value is the highly collaborative relationship. So the future of professional services is for the people who can create value of those who can find ways to work closely with their client to create value for what I describe as knowledge based relationship, where they combine their own expertise and that of their clients, so that even though they are in different organizations, there are collaborating. So I think the future of professional services, and the future of the economy is building this collaboration.

That was Ross Dawson, CEO of international consulting firm Advanced Human Technologies speaking about the latest trends and developments in IT professional services.