If we asked businesses in any sector to describe their experiences in 2021, we could probably predict what they would say. Unpredictable, volatile, demanding. However, if we only asked the businesses which are growing and finding successes in 2021, we’d find that they didn’t stop there. Yes it’s challenging and uncertain, they would say, but it’s also an opportunity, it’s transformational. Particularly in the UK, the professional services industry has been among the sectors which have survived, and sometimes even thrived, during the pandemic.
At AGP, we’ve been watching the emerging trends endorsed by some of the highest performing professional services firms of 2021.
- No room for technophobes
At work and at home, there’s no question that the pandemic has left us more glued to our computer and phone screens than ever. The biggest potential customer bases, the best talent, our biggest competitors; they’re all online. If we’re not meeting them where they are or staying in the loop, then we’re falling behind.
In 2021, there’s no excuse for not prioritising the digital. Whether it’s analysing how to make your mobile app flawless and easy to use, using or streamlining your internal IT systems, your digital strategy can make or break a company.
Artificial intelligence is also changing the way we work in professional services. Many of the time-consuming, ‘backstage’ business processes which eat into the valuable time of talented professionals can be automated. When businesses do this, they increase the work capacity of their teams, and make huge efficiency savings, so it’s a trend to get on board with before you get left behind!
- The great workplace restructuring
It’s become very clear that Covid-19 is pushing the professional services industry towards a revolution in working habits and organisational culture. Flexible and remote working, more international collaboration, and demands for wellbeing support and inclusivity; businesses have a lot to think about in 2021.
It’s also no secret that firms are divided over their willingness to wave goodbye to the pre-pandemic status quo, and plenty are digging their heels in. But there’s increasing evidence that we’re looking at some true seismic shifts. Both employees and customers have changed their expectations, their habits and even their locations. Taking the opportunity to transform and innovate rather than seeing change as an inconvenience will be crucial to securing long-lasting success for professional services firms.
Can remote working allow you to source the best talent in the whole country, even the world? Could greater flexibility and more open communication increase employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity?
- Keeping up with the customer
Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge facing professional services firms in 2021 is uncertainty. How can we implement effective strategies in the mid to long term when we’re facing different conditions every day, week and month?
There’s no silver bullet of course, but many of the companies which have performed best during the pandemic have been those with the most knowledge of their customers. Businesses who invested in learning about their clients’ online behaviour and who conducted frequent, targeted market research were more able to offset some of that instability.
The inability to forecast for the long term has created pressure to focus on who the customer is, what they want right now, and how to deliver it quickly. Staying up to date with what’s happening in your customer base will continue to be vital for the rest of the year, and probably into 2022 and beyond.
If you are interested in finding out what our coaching, recruitment and research services could bring your organisation, our friendly team would be happy to discuss your exact requirements and any questions you may have. We offer executive search services within the retail sector, luxury sector and hospitality, leisure and travel. Do not hesitate to contact us today by calling Tony Gregg on 020 7358 8133.