Adam Judelson, VP of Product at Deloitte Consulting, and Chris Kluesener, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Alpha, discuss how to build a product startup within a global management consulting firm, and how that fits into the context of the massive transformation taking place in professional services today.
The professional services industry has seen massive changes over the last five years. Business models and consumer preferences are evolving faster than management consulting firms can keep up with.
“It’s sort of the beginning of the next wave of change, which is the building and acquiring of digital capabilities. Every one of the ‘Big Four’ consulting firms known for their accounting prowess are now seen as experts in digital. And Fortune 500 clients rely on them to help with these digital transformation projects,” says Chris Kluesener, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Alpha. “It’s literally more difficult than it’s ever been before for Fortune 500 clients to keep pace with the market.”
But the more the industry consolidates, the more it becomes fragmented. To combat this, firms are either acquiring digital agencies, partnering with startup tech solutions, or building and growing new products, like Adam Judelson’s team is doing at Deloitte.
Adam is the VP of Product for Mission Graph, a startup platform within Deloitte that uses graph databases to analyze and visualize large amounts of data.
Adam has plenty of startup experience, having worked as an early employee at Palantir and founding his own company at one point. But the startup product at Deloitte operates a little differently, considering it’s nestled in a large professional services company. Every business function, whether it’s marketing, product, fundraising, or customer success, functions differently, Adam says.
Why do it then? “Consulting organizations are able to touch some of the most important problems in the world,” Adam says. “If we can unlock the secrets to making product work really efficiently inside consulting organizations at scale, it can increase the impact on literally everything that we do. The motivation is you get access to this entire market of good problems where you can already have a huge impact if you can unlock these internal secrets.”
To make the product work well in such a unique environment, Adam and the team at Mission Graph borrow from the product management playbook, adopting user research and discovery staples like product concept validation, prototyping, iteration, or usability testing.
The days of management consultants only selling service hours are over. Now, they need to go to market with products and partnerships. “The trend we’re seeing is larger and more complex organizational structures, where product management is a core competency,” says Chris.
In this episode, you’ll learn a lot about user research, professional services, go-to-market strategies for startups and large organizations, and digital partnerships.
Here are the highlights:
- At Mission Graph, what’s different about the go-to-market strategy (12:09)
- How the professional services industry is evolving (17:10)
- The ways core business functions operate differently at professional services company compared to a high-growth startup (21:23)
- Chris’ perspective on the current state of user research (27:24)
- Key challenges associated with deploying product management best practices, like user research, at a global consulting firm (32:23)
- What does the business model for management consulting look like 20 years from today? (38:37)