What is the Consulting Services Industry? An Expert's Perspective

Learn about Consulting Services Industry from an expert's perspective. Understand its history & evolution over time & its various domains.

What is the Consulting Services Industry? An Expert's Perspective

Consulting services are part of the professional services sector and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue. There has always been a blurry line between management consulting and other consulting practices, such as information technology consulting and human resources consulting, and this line remains unclear. The roots of the consulting industry can be traced back to the late 19th century, when the world's first modern consulting firms were established. Although the term 'consultant' is not a protected degree (in essence, anyone can claim to be a consultant at any time), consultants in this industry are usually highly educated professionals. Within an organization, consultants are expected to act professionally, possess the necessary qualifications, and provide a high level of service to clients.

The internationalization of the consulting industry began in the early 1960s, when large American management consultancies expanded to Europe, bringing their management models and expertise to transform European organizations. In the 1960s, several new management consulting firms were founded, including Roland Berger and Boston Consulting Group (BCG). At the core of this industry are six main domains (strategic consulting, management consulting, operations consulting, financial advice, human resources consulting and technology consulting) that together cover services and offers in more than 200 industrial and functional areas. Do not overlook the publications available on the websites of each of the top management consulting firms; they are great sources for more information about consulting. In its early days (which began in the US before spreading to Europe and the rest of the world), the first consulting firms focused their advisory services mainly on solving technical and financial problems.

In addition to consultants who work in the consulting sector, advisors are increasingly playing consultative roles outside of this industry, making great use of their consulting skills. Consultants may work in a consulting firm, as independent consultants (freelancers), or as consultants within an organization outside of the consulting industry (“internal consultants”).

The Rise of Management Consulting

Most consultants work in large and medium-sized consulting firms; however, these firms do not usually represent more than 15% of all companies in this sector, with most companies operating as sole proprietorships (that is, major consulting firms continue to compete with investment banks and each other for the best candidates from university and business school programs across the country), offering very attractive compensation packages and professional opportunities. Starting at the turn of the century, management consulting - which initially focused mainly on engineering and finance - was gaining ground in business circles, although it wasn't until the 1930s that consulting firms began to expand beyond a few founding partners and small teams. In the late 1990s, the consulting industry flourished due to a variety of factors (a strong global economy, increased computing power, penetration into emerging markets, privatization, globalization, and new information technology consultancy practices).


The Consulting Services Industry has come a long way since its inception in late 19th century.

It has grown from a small niche market into a multi-billion dollar industry that provides services across multiple domains such as strategic consulting, management consulting, operations consulting, financial advice, human resources consulting and technology consulting. With its ever-growing presence in both domestic and international markets, it is clear that this industry will continue to be an important part of our economy for years to come.

Nadine Chris
Nadine Chris

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