Oct 9, 2003

Gartner analysts say: "Brands could play key role in winning market share in fragmented IT services industry -

The IT services marketplace is a highly competitive and fragmented market where a strong brand can play an important role in differentiating a company, as IT service providers compete with top-tier technology vendors for market share and mind share, according to Gartner's latest report.

The survey showed that IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft ranked in the top 10 in terms of first to mind and total unaided responses in the business and IT consulting category, even though none of the three have a strong footprint in business consulting.

A total of 159 different providers were top of mind in business and IT consulting. Even so, 'don't know' was among the top five in every category. Gartner analysts believe this is a good news/bad news situation for IT professional services providers.

'For providers entering the market, or established and/or boutique players who have historically foregone brand building, there is still plenty of mind share to be had. Outside of IBM, no one provider overwhelmingly dominated any categories tested,' said Christine Adams, principal analyst for Gartner. "

Strategic consulting looks set to make a comeback

Strategic consulting looks set to make a comeback on both sides of the Atlantic, according to the latest research. In the US, a new report* shows there is an increased appetite amongst corporate executives for strategic advice. Surveying consulting clients, Kennedy Information found that 87% envisage engaging strategic advisors during the next 2 years - suggesting the hey days may soon be back for the likes of McKinsey, BCG and BAH. This ties in with data suggesting a US economic recovery is underway and that a refocusing on growth strategies is likely to occur amongst big corporate clients.

The renewed interest in recruiting experienced strategy consultants is the most obvious indicator that Partners expect stronger strategy consulting growth to materialize in 2004. Several of the leading strategy firms are actively recruiting once again, though mostly through discreet channels.

Perhaps the most telling indicator for the sector will become clear during the next 6 weeks, when the strategy consultancies begin their drives to entice and recruit the top talent amongst university graduates. These last 2 years, the presence of many firms at campus recruiting events has been a purely token gesture to maintain brand awareness on campus. If October sees a renewed gusto in their attempts to woo the brightest of the bright then we will feel confident that better times are here to stay.