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In the last edition of MarketVISION, I made several predictions about the coming months that have in general held true – here’s the latest on the top 5 areas I like to keep an eye on. 

  1. M&A activity has been strong and looks likely to continue apace throughout the year, bringing additional strategy and integration work to the market as companies continue to divest and acquire businesses to align to their core strengths and add capabilities.  GSG continues to see this activity at our clients driving consulting opportunities.  Bain and Company’s 3rd Annual Global M&A Report offers key insights and metrics for those that want to learn more. 
  2. Financial markets have not seen as many wild swings as I would have expected, but the technical crash of the NASDAQ tech stocks probably surprised as investors paused their bets to take some profits off the table driving the market down.  Now as we head into the 2nd quarter, the markets appear to be stabilizing a bit and the bull keeps charging ahead.  With the prospects of additional infrastructure stimulus, businesses reopening and declining unemployment, the near term looks positive overall with the exception of continued devaluation of the US dollar as the government prints more money.   I see the market impact to consulting spend as a net neutral in the coming months with a slight bias to the positive as companies become more confident that consumer spending will increase.
  3. Now that the Biden administration is in office, the risk and regulatory environment will likely become more active as democratic administrations historically embrace greater enforcement of regulatory factors, although we have yet to see any new major legislation introduced that would curtail economic activity.  The exception to this may be in the crypto markets as more and more financial institutions start to make plans to deal with digital assets in their portfolios, funds and customer estates. 
  4. Increased investments in digital transformation and customer experience will continue.  These are long-term plays that take months and years to implement, and coupled with the past decade of endless regulatory remediation work and the impact of M&A, there is a long queue of work to transform legacy systems to adapt to a quickly changing consumer mindset when it comes to the online and mobile experience.  Those consulting firms that have a strong bench in the areas of User Experience, Open Banking and Customer Journey Design will enjoy strong demand.
  5. Return to Workplace activity will continue to build as organizations assess their approach to the new reality – a more geographically distributed workforce and a cautious return to working in close physical proximity with other employees.  Companies will be balancing the need to keep their employees safe with the desire to maintain some of the benefits of last year of remote work (higher productivity, more work/life balance, flexibility, reduced carbon emissions and reduced operating costs).  Companies that take a true change management approach to solving these problems will come out on top with the help of their consulting partners who can impact their ability to adopt the necessary changes in the workplace to achieve their goals.

All in all, I am hopeful for the coming 3 months as GSG has pivoted to support our customers with their most urgent priorities.  We have seen significant increases of activity with some customers as others contract based on their evolving strategies and changes in leadership. 

As an LGBTQ-owned business enterprise, GSG has experienced strong traction with large corporations who see supplier diversity as a financial and moral imperative to their long-term success.  But I’m always mindful of the fact that our customers don’t come to us because we’re diverse, they come to us because of what we do and how we do it.  Learn more about GSG’s Supplier Diversity program.  Diversity of thought, perspective and experience drives change, and change is what we must do together.

As Mahatma Ghandi said it best – “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”

Come on!  Let’s make some ripples together and change the world!

John Henning is the Chief Client Officer at Granite Solutions Groupe. He has over 35 years of leadership experience in the financial services and technology industries, and currently oversees all client account management, professional services, marketing strategy, business development and sales operations for GSG.