BearingPoint looks to support businesses 'blurring lines' in digital age

10 September 2018 6 min. read
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With digital disruption prompting changes across all industries, many companies are embracing business models that increasingly overlap with other sectors. According to Tony Farnfield, UK Practice Lead at BearingPoint, the future will see an increasing number of previously distinct industries come together to create new business models, with the consulting industry no different to the rest.

2017 saw BearingPoint enjoy an extremely successful year, outpacing the growth of the overall consulting market with an expansion in revenues of 12% to hit €710 million. The management and technology consultancy also worked to enlarge its capacity to meet the changing needs of clients with the acquisition of specialist supply chain firm LCP Consulting.

Looking forward, BearingPoint’s newly appointed UK Practice Lead, Tony Farnfield, believes that the future holds some exciting prospects for the firm. Arriving at BearingPoint in early 2014, Farnfield spent the previous 15 years with consulting firm Trinity Horne. He moved over to BearingPoint when the firm, keen to maintain a front foot in its pursuit of growth, acquired Trinity Horne. In July 2018, Farnfield was made UK Practice Lead for BearingPoint.

BearingPoint looks to support businesses 'blurring lines' in digital age

But while he has spent almost 20 years in the consulting industry, his career has its roots elsewhere. Prior to his arrival in his current field, Farnfield worked in the print industry for 12 years.

“I moved across to consulting in 1998 having become heavily involved in technology during the digitisation of the print industry,” he explained.

This first-hand experience of digital transformation imbued Farnfield with an eye for changing trends elsewhere, and as digital disruption sweeps across all industries, and that experience has proven invaluable. Farnfield elaborated, “The world is changing fast. Lines are blurring between previously distinct industries. Heightened competition means clients need to think innovatively about their business model, how they can adapt to new challenges and leverage new technologies.”

A changing world

According to Farnfield, a key example of this digital disruption is in the automotive sector. Many companies, such as Jaguar Land Rover, are investing in new connected car technologies, and along with many other leading manufacturers they are faced with the disruptive force of companies like Tesla, a pioneer in electric cars, and those at the forefront of the self-driving promise. While this throws up the need to adapt technologically, it also means automotive companies may have to take strategic steps to accommodate the idea that the cars of the future maybe no longer have single owners – potentially impacting on demand and pricing for vehicles which may be rather costly to produce.

In addition to this, the insurance sector will also be impacted with an increasing need to embrace new business models as self-driving cars and shared-ownership increases. As the insurance and automotive industries look to change their business models, Farnfield expects the two distinct sectors will need to collaborate and work symbiotically to respond to an altered market, in which “people don’t own their assets and subscription models dominate.”

“Internally, the lines are also blurring. We are increasingly focussed on collaborating, innovating, and fostering synergies between our departments.”
– Tony Farnfield, BearingPoint UK Country Leader

A merging of paths like this can also be seen in the world of financial services. As the traditional big banks have struggled to remain compliant with increasingly heavy regulatory burdens, a new generation of digitally savvy FinTechs have made short work of the process by leveraging new technology-driven opportunities. Their flexibility and ability to tailor customer experiences have led to them gaining market share from long-term industry incumbents. In order to maintain their position, banks have had to think about this competition in an agile way, leading to a growing number collaborating with FinTechs; closing the gap and blurring the boundaries between these different businesses.

How to adapt

With a focus on digital and strategy work, Farnfield’s current role sees him both helping clients implement new technologies and business practices, and planning for the required cultural behavioural transformation that is needed to truly reap the benefits of change. To do so, he said that BearingPoint is mirroring the clients it seeks to help.

Farnfield stated, “Internally, the lines are also blurring. We are increasingly focussed on collaborating, innovating, and fostering synergies between our departments. As a result, we are producing an ever-increasing number of holistic solutions which we can offer to clients to enhance revenues, as well as participating directly in ventures.”

These solutions include Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI offerings, and BearingPoint’s own regulatory, analytics and digital platform solutions. With an increased number of solutions being offered to clients, Farnfield foresees a change in the consultant/client relationship in years to come.

“What I see more and more is that partnerships and collaboration are essential,” he suggested. “As businesses’ agility becomes essential, it will be important to work together with companies in the long term, and sharing in risks and benefits will become business as usual.”

As a result of change in the market place the focus on people and innovation has become a critical success factor. To this end, Farnfield concluded, “Providing our people with the environment to accelerate their learning, experiment and be part of new and differentiated solutions is critical… We are now bringing people together from different industries and service lines to collaborate in hubs on innovative new offerings for our clients, while looking for new starters that have an entrepreneurial spirit, and who can look holistically at industry challenges and issues.”