August 30 2021 Farah Harb
Consulting

The Research & Knowledge Benchmark: How Consultancies invest in Research & Knowledge

It is evident that consulting companies are increasingly putting more emphasis on research and knowledge teams and functions. However, how firms choose to expand, organize and structure these teams varies significantly.

In the last 5 years, the R&K teams in most strategy consulting firms have grown in absolute numbers, with McKinsey and BCG having by far the largest R&K teams among the top tier consulting firms.

 

 

R&K teams can be classified into 2 main functions, either Research or Knowledge. Researchers are dedicated to increasing the knowledge of an organization, by supporting consulting projects, proposals, and other initiatives with freshly gathered data and added-value insights generation. As for Knowledge teams, they are devoted to capitalizing on the knowledge already existing within an organization, by sharing it and making it available to the right person at the right time.

When it comes to the type of profiles within these teams, R&K professionals are classified into analysts or librarians based on the experience or background of these professionals. We have primarily examined the education and years of experience in the current position as indicators of whether these profiles are librarians or analysts. Librarians typically hold degrees in library science, linguistics, or literature while analysts usually have a background in business or economics. In terms of years of experience in the current job, librarians tend to spend considerably more time at their positions than analysts. We have therefore classified professionals who have spent 5 or more years within their positions as librarians.

Based on our study, we can conclude that business research professionals outnumber knowledge experts in most companies – with McKinsey having the highest number of research professionals among the companies benchmarked. Meanwhile, BCG exceptionally places a strong emphasis on knowledge which is less pronounced in other firms such as Roland Berger and Kearney.

In terms of profiles, McKinsey and BCG are increasingly extending the roles of R&K and relying on analysts for more value-added research while Bain, Oliver Wyman, and (to a lesser degree) Kearney have retained more traditional librarian profiles, primarily focused on gathering and organizing data and research.

Moreover, the study also dedicates a section for the analysis of the Big Four. This is because, despite being historically focused on the fields of accounting, tax, and legal, they are expanding more and more their presence in the strategy consulting area. Booz Allen Hamilton has been analyzed along with the Big four, as a large share of its activity is not strictly strategy consulting

Within the Big Four, EY and Deloitte have the largest R&K teams followed by PWC. KPMG and Booz Allen Hamilton have significantly smaller R&K teams. Also, EY and Deloitte have balanced teams of research and knowledge professionals, while PWC and KPMG make a significant investment in Research capabilities compared to Knowledge.

Remarkably, there are more librarians in the big 4 than in strategy consultancies, potentially demonstrating a more traditional approach to research. The knowledge function has more librarian profiles than the research function. The Big Four also choose to locate their R&K teams similarly to strategy consulting, with the USA, India, and Western Europe being the most popular choices.

The Infomineo Research and Knowledge benchmark examines and compares how consulting firms are organizing their knowledge and research functions internally, and where they’ve chosen to locate them globally.  The findings and the figures reported in this study are the results of the screening and the analysis performed on ~4,000 LinkedIn profiles.

 

The Research & Knowledge Benchmark: How Consultancies invest in Research & Knowledge