Spotlight on Consulting
An interview with Anne-Marie Malley, Managing Partner for Consulting, Deloitte UK
What have been the key growth areas from a consulting perspective this year?
Many organisations have had to find new ways forward during the COVID-19 crisis and technology has been at the heart of that. We’ve seen an increased focus on digital transformation as businesses look to improve the customer experience, increase operational efficiency, boost productivity and define new business models.
To meet the growing demand for digital support, we’ve opened a number of technology-focused regional hubs across the UK, including in Belfast, Bristol, Reading and our continued expansion in Manchester. We’ve also announced our intention to acquire the business and assets of Keytree, the international award-winning technology consultancy, which strengthens our capabilities in areas including data analytics, cloud services and robotic technologies. By combining our expertise, we’ve created the largest SAP-enabled transformation practice in the UK and one of the biggest in Europe.
Importantly, this means we have more capacity to support clients through their digital transformation and can offer new and increasingly innovative thinking to help them shape their strategies.
What has COVID-19 meant for us and our clients?
Our consultants have played a vital role in enabling our clients to respond to the challenges of COVID-19, and recover and thrive post-pandemic. This has included helping them to strengthen their supply chains, extend their digital footprint, reduce costs and safeguard future work.
During lockdown, we discovered new ways of collaborating effectively to make sure we maintained our sense of community and remained connected to our clients and each other. Our commitment to agile working helped us to adapt – Deloitte has long been a proponent of agile working and even before the restrictions were put in place we had 20,000 people operating from home safely and securely.
Organisations have changed their business models overnight – digital platforms that would have taken over a year to approve, design and build are now delivered in a matter of weeks. We have all had to learn from this experience, and build more agility into our business. By breaking down barriers to collaboration, encouraging innovation and simplifying decision-making, we can do remarkable, high quality consultancy work that serves the public interest. This includes the work that we have done, alongside many other organisations, to support the government to scale the UK’s COVID-19 testing capacity and procure PPE from existing and new manufactures in the UK and abroad.
What are the big trends/shifts we’re expecting in the months and year ahead?
Clients are increasingly talking to us about how digital transformation can drive productivity. This has involved discussions about the role of the cloud, adopting more agile processes and using data more effectively. Such technology enables businesses to better interact with their customers and consumers while supporting a growing number of employees who want to continue working more remotely.
On that point, the future of work will also be an important trend; it is likely that the way we work will forever be changed as a result of COVID-19. Our clients have experienced the positives that remote working has meant for their organisations, their people and our planet. We are now at a stage where organisations are having to decide what their future work environment might look like, and in many cases will have to take action in order to harness new technologies and effectively lead and engage the new workforce.
Purpose will always be a focus for our business and our clients as we continue to ensure we’re making a positive impact on society. We will do this through, for instance, addressing sustainability challenges or providing new opportunities so people across the UK can boost their digital skills. One example is in Belfast, where we have continued to make a positive economic and social impact the to the development and regeneration of the region through new talent programmes such as our higher level 6 apprenticeship, the first in Northern Ireland.
Where will the biggest challenges/opportunities be for our clients?
While digital transformation is key, COVID-19 has exposed challenges around digital exclusion, data privacy and security. These are issues that all businesses must work hard to address.
Some organisations can innovate at incredible speed, allowing them to quickly improve the experience of customers, employees and, in many cases, our wider society.
A key challenge for us will be to help other organisations improve this so they can also respond – and recover – as quickly as possible.
What are you most worried about?
My greatest concerns have to be the economic impact of COVID-19 on the UK and the country’s ability to remain competitive on the global stage. I hope that the pandemic is a catalyst for us to innovate, drive change, implement technology at pace and become role models for embracing new ways of working in the future.
Also, there is still a need to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In recent months, remote working has allowed leaders to engage employees on a much more equal basis, with technology being used to break down barriers and improve accessibility to senior leadership. I worry that we will not build on the progress that has already been made around the inclusion agenda in the UK, and business leaders, myself included, have a collective responsibility to ensure that this does not fall by the wayside as the world of work returns to normal.
Listening to our people is crucial, and within consulting we have established an inclusion think tank that enables us to listen and be challenged. This includes supporting disability, neurodiversity, Black colleagues, women and the LGBTQ+ community and addressing under representation. The think tank runs listening sessions to capture the underlying issues and views of those underrepresented colleagues that help inform measurable action plans to improve inclusion.
How have you managed through lockdown?
Making sure that I go outside and see the sky every day has been important for my mental health and my step count. Spending quality time with my husband and children and scheduling regular video calls with my friends to stay connected have been real positives.
It was hard not being able to see my parents and family in Scotland through lockdown and keeping my teenage children entertained at home was difficult as they struggled with not being able to see their friends. I really missed socialising with my friends and colleagues.
Over the summer we spent two weeks in Scotland and I made up for lost time, especially once many of our favourite restaurants re-opened their doors!