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 Business and Management Consultancies in India: ISIC 7414

Industry Overview | 01 Mar 2011


  • Indian consulting services was on the rise over the review period of 2000-2010, with its value rising from INR69 billion 2000, to INR113 billion in 2010.
  • Growth averaged 6% annually over the decade, driven by strong demand from Indian businesses. Business purchases accounted for virtually all of demand for business and management consultancies, shaping the performance of consulting services. Consultancies posted significant growth from 2004 through 2006. However, 2007-2010 marked a challenging period, in light of the global economic slowdown and shrinking corporate budgets. India’s largest outsourced business and technology consulting firms complained that clients were delaying or cancelling projects as 2009 began. Despite that, total value continued to grow in 2008 and 2009 on the back of strong intrinsic potential.
  • Turnover of local consulting services grew rather moderately at 3% annually over the review period and amounted to INR81 billion at the end of 2010. This figure includes activities of management holding offices and those are estimated to account for more than half of the turnover mentioned above; thus significantly enlarging the industry.
  • Asia Pacific consulting industry generated USD33.5 billion as revenues in 2008, of which India contributed only several percent. For comparison, Japan alone contributes 67%. These disparities indicate huge potential for growth as India’s rapid economic growth continues and its billion citizens become increasingly wealthy. Largest concentration of consultancy organisations is in the metropolitan cities. Delhi has the highest number of consultancy firms, accounting for nearly 26% of all India. It is followed by Mumbai with 25% of all companies, Chennai with 12% and Calcutta 9%. Emergence of so-called second-tier cities such as Ahmedabad or Nagpur will further stimulate growth.
  • Indian consultants are increasingly selling their services to foreign clients. The US, the UK, Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia are among the countries that acknowledge the competence of Indian consultancy firms, with demand growing in the EU as well. Indian consulting companies are considered to have especially strong capabilities in areas like civil engineering, telecom, power, metallurgy, chemical and computer software. Share of revenue from sales to foreign customers was in excess of 40% of total service output for the last few years of the review period, indicating these strengths of Indian consultants. In comparison, the share was as little as 14% in the year 2000.
  • The major strengths of Indian services include professional competence in certain areas, low cost structure, high adaptability and quick learning of Indian consultants. The major weaknesses which have hindered the export growth of consulting services in the country are low quality assurance, low level of and often lack of market intelligence.
  • The growing globalisation of business and industry in general led inevitably to the globalisation of the leading consulting companies. India is a growing offshore outsourcing destination for major consulting enterprises. Firms like McKinsey, Bain and BCG have their knowledge centres located in India, where they typically hire undergraduates to act as research analysts or research associates. Many such companies operate worldwide and have multiethnic, multilingual employee bases.
  • Interestingly, spending on labour decreased in value terms over the last decade and share of labour costs in total cost structure decreased from 54% of total costs in 2000 to 35% in 2010. At the same time, spending on B2B suppliers grew by 5% annually and accounted for more than 60% of total operational costs; representative largely of the cost structure of management holding companies falling under the industry in focus. Profit margin EBITDA steadily increased over the decade, except a dip over 2001 and 2002, and was highly impressive 52% in 2010.
  • The greatest threat to the growth of consulting firms is their inability to get enough qualified people. Some firms are already devising creative solutions such as launching their own accredited MBA programmes geared toward the specific needs of consultants. Qualified people are moving toward the consulting profession, especially with its heightened demand and visibility, not to mention inflated salaries.
  • Global economic turmoil of the past few years sent shock waves across most economies. However, India is among the few that was little affected due to its huge domestic growth potential and limited exposure to the global financial sector. Attractiveness of India as an outsourcing hub means multinational companies setting up offices here will likely need domestic market intelligence, opening further opportunities for growth to local consulting services. In 2010, corporate profits in general grew substantially, meaning that executives may be more willing to authorise new consulting projects as long as they see the potential for a good return on the cost. These factors combined mean Indian business and management consulting industry should grow by 6% annually over the next six years.

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