Two-thirds of small consultancy firms are no match for the digital capability of the big players

Pointerpro survey: Digital innovation is the key to bridging the competitiveness divide


Antwerp, March 2023 – Smaller consultancy firms lack the capability to be able to vie with bigger competitors. This emerges from a survey conducted by Pointerpro (together with iVOX) among 550 consultants from Belgium and abroad. According to the consultants, the main cause of the competitiveness divide is the lack of resources for (digital) innovation. The smaller consultancy firms work manually more frequently and spend more time on repetitive tasks.

Pointerpro can be used to input experts’ knowledge into an assessment. In combination with the answers from the respondent, the technology auto-generates reports. Pointerpro questioned 550 consultants in order to obtain a clearer picture of the consultancy firm landscape. They work in small firms (turnover of less than 5 million euros), medium-sized firms (turnover between 5 and 30 million euros) and large companies (turnover in excess of 30 million euros). The survey reveals major differences between the various consultancy firms. Among the smaller consultancy firms, 66% of the consultants state that they are no match for their bigger competitors.

This competitiveness divide is linked to a digital divide. Over half of the consultancy firms (55%) indicate that they still largely support their clients manually. Among the smaller firms, this figure is even as high as 69%. If they do already use digital tools, this is mainly for back-office applications such as invoicing or time recording. Their core business, providing companies with advice, lags even further behind. Fifty-eight percent of consultants in smaller firms think that the key to catching up lies in having more resources for innovation and digitalization.

Digitalizing to scale up

Digitalizing services provide an opportunity for consultancy firms to scale up and gather pace. Thirty-four percent of the consultants surveyed say clients want ever-faster results.

Stefan Debois, Pointerpro founder and CEO

"Using assessments completed by their clients, with our technology, consultancy firms can create personal advice automatically. This is done on the basis of the knowledge that the firm already has in-house. Three-fifths of consultancy firms currently do too little knowledge sharing. One in ten firms doesn’t do it at all. By pooling this knowledge and automating advisory services, we can save consultancy firms a lot of time and money."

Fear of job losses

The Pointerpro survey indicates that consultants would like more digitalisation, but they are anxious about the impact on their own job. Around 40% fear that further digitalisation would lead to job losses. Surprisingly, this fear is greater among the younger generation than among older people. 

"This concern is understandable, but it’s a stubborn misconception that digitalization will cost consultancy jobs," Stefan Debois stresses.

"The consultants themselves say that, on average, 43% of their time is spent on repetitive tasks. If these tasks are (partly) taken over by digital tools, more time is available for high-quality, more strategic tasks. And this is precisely where consultancy firms can make the difference. Firms that dare to invest in innovation and digitalization – including the smaller players – can strengthen their competitive position, offer better and more efficient services, and upscale their company."

Pointerpro survey: Digital innovation is the key to bridging the competitiveness divide


Antwerp, March 2023 – Smaller consultancy firms lack the capability to be able to vie with bigger competitors. This emerges from a survey conducted by Pointerpro (together with iVOX) among 550 consultants from Belgium and abroad. According to the consultants, the main cause of the competitiveness divide is the lack of resources for (digital) innovation. The smaller consultancy firms work manually more frequently and spend more time on repetitive tasks.

Pointerpro can be used to input experts’ knowledge into an assessment. In combination with the answers from the respondent, the technology auto-generates reports. Pointerpro questioned 550 consultants in order to obtain a clearer picture of the consultancy firm landscape. They work in small firms (turnover of less than 5 million euros), medium-sized firms (turnover between 5 and 30 million euros) and large companies (turnover in excess of 30 million euros). The survey reveals major differences between the various consultancy firms. Among the smaller consultancy firms, 66% of the consultants state that they are no match for their bigger competitors.

This competitiveness divide is linked to a digital divide. Over half of the consultancy firms (55%) indicate that they still largely support their clients manually. Among the smaller firms, this figure is even as high as 69%. If they do already use digital tools, this is mainly for back-office applications such as invoicing or time recording. Their core business, providing companies with advice, lags even further behind. Fifty-eight percent of consultants in smaller firms think that the key to catching up lies in having more resources for innovation and digitalization.

Digitalizing to scale up

Digitalizing services provide an opportunity for consultancy firms to scale up and gather pace. Thirty-four percent of the consultants surveyed say clients want ever-faster results.

Stefan Debois, Pointerpro founder and CEO

"Using assessments completed by their clients, with our technology, consultancy firms can create personal advice automatically. This is done on the basis of the knowledge that the firm already has in-house. Three-fifths of consultancy firms currently do too little knowledge sharing. One in ten firms doesn’t do it at all. By pooling this knowledge and automating advisory services, we can save consultancy firms a lot of time and money."

Fear of job losses

The Pointerpro survey indicates that consultants would like more digitalisation, but they are anxious about the impact on their own job. Around 40% fear that further digitalisation would lead to job losses. Surprisingly, this fear is greater among the younger generation than among older people. 

"This concern is understandable, but it’s a stubborn misconception that digitalization will cost consultancy jobs," Stefan Debois stresses.

"The consultants themselves say that, on average, 43% of their time is spent on repetitive tasks. If these tasks are (partly) taken over by digital tools, more time is available for high-quality, more strategic tasks. And this is precisely where consultancy firms can make the difference. Firms that dare to invest in innovation and digitalization – including the smaller players – can strengthen their competitive position, offer better and more efficient services, and upscale their company."

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About the author:
Jeroen De Rore

Jeroen De Rore

As Creative Copywriter at Pointerpro, Jeroen thinks and writes about the challenges professional service providers find on their paths. He is a tech optimist with a taste for nostalgia and storytelling.

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