Disruption in Big Consulting

As a boutique consulting firm, Croixstone provides clients across the greater Charlotte region with on-demand expertise from project consultants who deliver improved focus and deeper expertise at a lower cost than the “big” guys.  Our business model is helping to disrupt the legacy consulting model.

As businesses become more informed, they recognize the inefficiencies that are inherent in the traditional big company consulting model.  The drivers for these inefficiencies include:

1.  The big consulting business model hasn’t changed with the rest of the world.

2.  Partner incentives at big consulting firms do not always put client needs first.

3.  Huge overhead costs are built into the rates.

4.  Big consulting firms have many hammers, but not every problem is a nail.

Learn more about consulting industry disruption and the rise of boutique firms here.


A Virtual View of the Skills Gap Dilemma

According to the just-released 2018 Employer Needs Survey, 50 percent of North Carolina businesses report hiring difficulties and 60 percent of NC STEM-related and manufacturing companies experience the same. A recent Deloitte study estimates 2.4 million positions may go unfilled over the next decade.

Immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) or mixed reality (MR) [collectively called XR], are being used to address the skills gap behind those numbers. Charlotte-based Lowe’s finds VR particularly useful for simulating the numerous home environments a sales or service representative may encounter. Global shipping giant DHL Supply Chain reports an average 15 percent or greater improvement in productivity in its warehouses utilizing AR glasses, while also reducing onboarding and training time by 50 percent.

What does this mean for employee training? Read more on:  A Virtual View of the Skills Gap Dilemma.

About Our Guest Writer

Lorraine Russell is President/CEO of Room to Focus.  The firm provides the tools and content to help companies increase training retention, attract digital natives, and reduce time spent onboarding and facilitating routine training.  

Spotlight on Disruption

Coworking office spaces represent a fundamental shift in the way people work, and the coworking industry is disrupting the commercial real estate industry in a very BIG way.  The future of work is a huge topic of discussion every week at Croixstone, and the shift in how people work is what incentivized us to relocate our offices from our business loft in South End to Industrious in Uptown Charlotte nearly one year ago. Learn why companies like Spotify, Lyft, Hyatt and Chipotle have joined Croixstone in calling Industrious home across the United States.  Click here.


Blockchain Simplified

Croixstone‘s CXO Patti Weber recently participated in Skookum‘s largest Tech Talks to date. Josh Miller, Senior Software Engineer at Skookum, provided insight into blockchain technology and the uses beyond Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. The original blockchain was described in a 2008 bitcoin paper by Satashi Nakamoto, just 2 months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. What makes blockchain so attractive is that it provides a level of trust that is interwoven in business transactions. People can now make transactions without middlemen which translates to greater control of funds and lower fees.

So, what is a blockchain? A blockchain is a digital encrypted ledger in which transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly. Like the name indicates, a blockchain is a chain of blocks containing information. Each block contains data, the hash (i.e., digital fingerprint that uniquely identifies the block and all the contents), and the hash of the previous block. When a block is created, a copy of the block is distributed on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. Each member of the P2P network gets a copy of the block, and a consensus is obtained to ensure that the chain has not been tampered with.
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The way the blocks are chained together using hashes, along with a “proof of work” mechanism and distribution through a P2P network, makes blockchains secure and trustworthy. The term immutability – its resistance to tampering or other changes – is often used when describing blockchain.
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Blockchains eliminate the need for middlemen (e.g., banks) making it more efficient than legacy systems. They exist within communities, and participants that operate within an industry can all operate on the same chain, and therefore, have a copy of the distributed ledger.
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Applications of Blockchain
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As a result of the tamper-proof and hack-proof nature of blockchain, it is one of the most promising technologies with far-reaching applications. Here are just a few of the industries that are/will be impacted..
For a more detailed explanation of blockchain, see CNET’s recent article titled Blockchain explained: It builds trust when you need it most.
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For more information about industries impacted, check out: Banking Is Only The Beginning: 36 Big Industries Blockchain Could Transform

Re-Envisioning the Future with Generative Design
Could the current manufacturing, distribution, assembly and maintenance processes become obsolete in the not too distant future?  Today, we take a look at generative design as an innovative approach to thinking outside the box when it comes to design and its implications to manufacturing.
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At Croixstone we are inspired by mavericks…those unconventional thinkers who can see past conformity and who can accomplish what others say can’t be done.  Generative design has the ability to generate unconventional design options that go beyond our imagination alone and can be used to create everything from running shoes, earbuds and airplane partitions, to a revolutionary approach to designing the office space and buildings of the future.
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So what is generative design? According to Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, “Generative design is a technology that mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design. It starts with your design goals and then explores all of the possible permutations of a solution to find the best option. Using cloud computing, generative design software quickly cycles through thousands—or even millions—of design choices, testing configurations and learning from each iteration what works and what doesn’t. The process lets designers generate brand new options, beyond what a human alone could create, to arrive at the most effective design.”  To better understand what generative design is all about, click here for a short video.
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  • Learn how generative design and additive manufacturing (i.e., 3-D printing) is changing the manufacturing world here.
  • Check out how generative design could radically transform the look of our world here.
  • Delve into a new world of highly efficient products made by generative design here.
  • Take a sneak peak into the first large-scale generative designed office here.

Trends Shaping the Consulting Industry
In the 2017 Management Consulting Outlook report prepared by Greentarget, a strategic public relations firm focused exclusively on business-to-business organizations, the global management consulting market has been growing revenue approximately 4 percent annually over the past few years. As the most mature market, the U.S. market grew 7.7 percent in 2015 to reach $54.7 billion, up from $50.8 billion in 2014. The global management consulting industry is now delivering an estimated $150 billion in revenue, and the growth trend is expected to continue, with the U.S. accounting for nearly half (44 percent) of the global market.
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We at Croixstone know it is important to keep abreast of the many forces and trends shaping the consulting industry. Demand for change as result of disruptive technologies and competition from new market competitors continues to drive investment in consulting.  What else is new in the consulting industry?
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  • Learn more about the who’s who of the consulting world in 2017 here.
  • What makes a great consultant?  Here are 10 attributes required for long term success as a consultant.
  • Read here about five consulting technology trends in 2017 that are more than buzzwords.

Keeping Up With Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has by now made its way to nearly all industries, and therefore, it comes up in Croixstone’s conversations almost daily. Why is digital transformation so important? Quite simply, if organizations don’t modernize and become fully digitalized then they will be left behind and the threat of disruption becomes very real. With companies investing millions to digitalize their businesses, they are hoping for outcomes that will increase revenue, reduce cost, create more products and services, improve customer satisfaction, enhance differentiation, and ultimately mitigate the risk of digital disruption.

Regardless of your area of expertise, digital transformation will impact everyone. Companies are looking for change drivers to help them weed through the digital transformation myths, create a culture that makes data-based decisions, and sift through an avalanche of digital initiatives to reshape their organizations.

Read about a new practical guide to a successful digital transformation here.

Learn some insights into helping your C-suite understand digital transformation here.

See how three companies are thriving with digital transformation here.


Gaining the Competitive Edge Through Digitized Supply Chain

Just like everywhere else, digital transformation has impacted the optimization of supply chain efficiency.  Advances include crewless ship operations, new warehouse automation breakthroughs with robots, development of autonomous-vehicle supply chains, advancements in 3D printing, and the emerging role of blockchain.

Learn more about how a digitized supply chain can give you a competitive edge here.

Demystify 3D printing and its disruption in industry here.

Your roadmap to a digital supply chain is here.


Disruptive Innovation via Big Data
Big Data in the marketplace is a disruptive force that requires new technologies, skills, tools and an open mind to drive innovation in business.  According to the May 6, 2017 cover story in The Economist, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.
Learn more about 5 trends in Big Data here.
Where is the value in Big Data? Find out here.