Digitalization as a megatrend continues to shape economic and social coexistence enormously and is increasingly found in almost all areas of a company (Kreutzer and Land 2013). In short, digitization means the implementation of business models, starting with products and services through processes, on computer-based formats that can thus be further processd with computers (Kreutzer and Land 2013). This development results in new or at least changed business models for almost all industries and company sizes (Bengler and Schmauder 2016).

Small and medium-sized enterprises on the rise

Management consulting is one of the sectors that benefits greatly from digitalization. Admittedly, management consulting is one of the sectors that sets up, directs and participates in the implementation of a large number of projects for the digitisation of companies in various industries (Werth et al. 2016). But what potential does there be for the consulting industry itself? As Greff and Werth say again: Rather, the industry is facing a change that transforms and attacks established consulting processes (Werth and Greff 2016). One potential could be to advise the undeveloped group of German SMEs according to the motto “Small and medium-sized enterprises advise small and medium-sized enterprises”.

Driver: Consulting 4.0

The challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises is that it has a demonstrably significantly lower R&D budget compared to large companies and that without economies of scale the costs of the required traditional advice are difficult to bear themselves. A trend such as Consulting 4.0 could remedy this trend (Werth and Greff 2016). Brand also thinks that one thing takes up the topic of consulting 4.0 and says: Since big names in the management consulting industry with well-known representatives, such as Accenture GmbH or Capgemini GmbH, are usually not financially viable for SMEs due to high hourly rates, a useful partnership was rarely considered. However, recent studies and publications on the topic of Consulting 4.0 offer new hope for advice for small and medium-sized enterprises (Brand Eins Theme 2016). In addition, please read my article on Consulting 4.0.

Expert interviews and case studies

The discussions revealed a trend towards two types of advisory services. On the one hand, those consultants who were mostly on site during the project (consultants 2 and 3) and those who were more likely to act via remote advice (consultants 1 and 4). The decision on the procedure depended on the respective requirements and decisions of the clients and was influenced not least by financial aspects of the customer.

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Key points of the study (own presentation)

Reading tip: More articles on SMEs 4.0


For absolute safety, the white paper for consulting 4.0 is regularly checked for malicious software. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology within the framework of the Task Force “IT Security in Business”. You can download it at any time without worrying.
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Advice 4.0 DOWNLOADEN! (click here)

Tip: Get the white paper: Agile teams in waterfall organizations for free!

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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