Economic conditions have shrunk consulting budgets in organisations, thereby making it difficult for small players to sustain
The consulting space in India is crowded with all the major global players having a significant presence. Consulting, by definition is a service that helps a client address a specific business challenge. Consulting services in India comprise strategy consultants, niche boutique consultants, recruitment consultants, business consultants, IP or knowledge consultants, leadership consultants, and system integrators.
There are various market categories in the consulting space with varying size and maturities. There are four categories of HR consulting organizations in India― MNCs that have been in India for a long time, MNCs that are new entrants or are looking to enter the Indian market, large Indian corporates, and SMEs and smaller corporations. Each of these markets have different levels of maturity and demands.
The consulting space in India has seen some changes in the last couple of years. Economic conditions and cost pressures have shrunk consulting budgets in organizations, thereby making it difficult for small players to sustain. As a result, consolidation has taken place, and there exists fewer players in India but on a larger scale. Consulting organizations in India unanimously agree that the Indian market has a lot of untapped opportunity. Nischae Suri, Managing Director at Mercer Human Capital, highlights that the PSU sector, in particular, is gradually looking to adopt global practices and improve transparency. Additionally, Indian multinational corporations looking to enter outside markets are largely underserved and it presents significant greenfield opportunities.
Sankar Ramamurthy, Executive Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, is optimistic that the outlook for consulting service will be positive in 2013. He highlights that some services like compensation, evaluation, and recruitment will be evergreen. People- based services and analytics will likely come up in a big way. There will likely be high demand for value-based services including learning solutions, social media services for recruiting and branding, and performance management.
At the same time, the market is witnessing pressures on margins and costs, both from the supply as well as the demand side. Consulting organizations in India are also worried about the dearth of skilled talent. To differentiate their market stature, consulting organizations will be looking to broaden their portfolio of services, hire quality talent, and increase focus on value-based service positioning.
Compared to the West, consulting services in India are still in the early stages of maturity. PSUs and homegrown companies, looking seriously at HR service delivery optimization, will introduce more maturity in the consulting space in terms of pricing structures and service expectations.