Dubai: As the GCC consulting market edges towards the $2bn landmark, a new research report released yesterday shows that the largest consulting firms in the world are investing more time and money into developing thought leadership in the Middle East than any other emerging market or country.
The report, from specialist consulting industry researchers Source Information Services, says that the Middle East (27 per cent) and China (26 per cent) dominated output across the globe, accounting for more than half of all thought leadership about emerging markets between them.
The report also found that in terms of volume of material written on the Middle East, Deloitte is producing the most thought leadership with Booz & Company (15 per cent), which used to dominate this market, now falling behind. The other main players in the Middle East are Mercer (13 per cent), EY (8 per cent), and A.T. Kearney (6 per cent).
Edward Haigh, a director of Source and an author of the report commented, "Whilst volume should be balanced with quality, a certain amount of volume is required just to keep a firm front of mind with clients, either in terms of its association with specific topic, or just generally as a service provider. But in emerging markets volume also demonstrates commitment: it tells clients that a firm isn't just turning up to collect a few pay cheques from a fast-growing market, but is planning to stick around for the long term."
Managing talent huge issue in the Middle East
Thoughts about how to find and retain talent are very important with much of the material designed to help people understand both the political and cultural frameworks within which organisations find themselves operating in emerging markets. The report cites Hay Group's Nitaqat In The Spotlight, a discussion (backed up by research) about Saudi Arabia's programme for measuring nationalisation in its workforce, as a good example of the sort of issues that consulting firms are helping their clients to tackle in emerging markets. In terms of quality, Accenture's Supply Chain Talent Management in the Arabian Gulf was recognised as it gets specific (to a function) where most material remains resolutely generic, and it also has relevance beyond the Arabian Gulf.
$2 billion in sight
Source Information Services' earlier report (published in April 2013) found that the GCC market grew by 18 per cent between 2011 and 2012, and is now worth just short of $1.9bn. The Saudi Arabian consulting market, which grew by 34 per cent to $791m, emerged as the largest consulting market in the GCC, eclipsing that of the UAE ($553m).
Consulting services that are in greatest demand from GCC companies and public sector organisations is operational improvement work (up 38 per cent), technology (up 33 per cent) and HR consulting (up 28 per cent). Partly driven by a shortage of skills internally, the greatest opportunity for consultants in the GCC lies in implementation.