I’ve been watching this trend with great curiosity (and first wrote about it in 2008).

On the one hand, software product vendors are slowly but surely migrating from just selling products to selling solutions — and solutions always require professional services. IBM led the trend when it acquired PwC Consulting in 2002. For the last few years, GoodData has also been concentrating on building embedded BI solutions with a strong emphasis on professional services.

Most recently, MicroStrategy (and I hope other BI/analytics/big data vendors will follow soon) made a significant investment into its management consulting capabilities, hiring hundreds of consultants and coming out with a “BI/analytics maturity assessment” service offering, which was formerly solely the realm of management consultants. Eighty percent of BI project success depends on the people/process part of the equation, and that’s why strong management consulting capabilities are key.

On the one hand, management consultants/systems integrators — most of the ones we reviewed last year (Accenture, Capgemini, Cognizant, Deloitte, EY, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Infosys, KPMG, PwC, Slalom, TCS, and Wipro) — have built their own big data/business intelligence/analytics platforms, mostly based on open source Hadoop, SPARC, and other similar products.

These consultancies are also acquiring relevant products. Infosys invested in Trifacta and Waterline Data, and most recently, HCL acquired Actian. Just like product vendors, the consultants find it harder and harder to compete just on people and prices, so now they compete on products, too.

My point of view: It’s a good trend that benefits the buyers, as they now have more options.

(This post originally appeared on the Forrester Research blog, which can be viewed here).

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