After recording a growth rate of 5 per cent for several years, Eastern Europe’s consulting market saw stronger growth in 2017—up 6.7 per cent to reach a value of €1.36bn. Poland—the region’s largest market—once again saw the strongest growth rate, followed by the other mature markets of Slovakia and Czech Republic.

Although growth has picked up across Eastern Europe, the consulting market report from Source Global Research, the leading research and strategy firm for the global management consulting industry, found that it still remains a challenging market for consultants. This is partly due to governments throughout the region continuing to actively involve themselves in business affairs and adopting increasingly protectionist regulations that limit the availability of foreign investment. At the same time, the public sector consulting market grew slowly because of an underlying scepticism about consultants and a lack of funds to employ them.

While Eastern Europe continued to lag the most digitally advanced countries, consultants saw a significant upturn in digital-related work in 2017. In particular, there was a surge in demand for robotics and RPA solutions as clients looked to automate tasks to reduce cost, drive efficiencies, and help the region maintain its competitive edge as a primary destination for nearshoring activity and shared service centres.

By using the biggest and most sophisticated model of the global consulting industry, Source also found that all industry sectors in Eastern Europe increased their use of consulting in 2017, with consulting revenues growing the fastest in retail and manufacturing as clients reacted to the disruption caused by e-commerce and the need to update legacy technology throughout the supply chain. There was also strong growth in technology, media & telecoms and financial services—the market’s largest sector—driven by growing interest in front-to-back digitisation and data & analytics.

B.J. Richards, Senior Editor from Source Global Research said:

“As the needs and demands of clients change in Eastern Europe, so too do the ways consultants in the region operate. Consultants are increasing their use of digital tools internally as a means of improving their own efficiency and demonstrating their digital adeptness to clients. Firms are also expanding their capabilities to allow them to deliver end-to-end solutions and making bigger investments in assets to deliver these more economically and at a quicker pace.”

Consulting also saw growth across all service lines in 2017, with technology as the largest and the fastest-growing service line driven by continued demand around updating legacy technology and a growing desire from clients to catch up with their counterparts in more digitally advanced markets.

Torsten Henzelmann, Managing Director, Central Europe, Roland Berger, added:

“We see two types of digitisation happening. The first is happening on the front end and is all about the customer's perspective. The second type is digitisation of the back end, and this is where the AI and robotics work is happening.”

Though market performance does, of course, vary by country, Source expects the overall Eastern Europe consulting market to grow at a slightly higher rate in 2018, with at least moderate growth in all regions.

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