Q&A with Atif Rafiq - Volvo's Chief Digital Officer

Thanks for joining us, Atif! As more companies seek to embed digital innovation across the enterprise, and do more work in-house, how do you see the role of consultants (especially strategy) changing?

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First, a caveat that I haven’t personally sought out consultants as most of my career has been with companies that hire their own top tier talent and build from within. I’m a believer in that model for most work. That said have been in a couple of major collaborations with consulting firms that were already in motion when I arrived into a role. It’s an important question and an existential risk to consulting practices. In the space of digitization, the name of the game is building internal capability. So it can be frustrating to hear a pitch to outsource work and thinking to another firm when a ton of investment and energy is being applied to building it inside. If a company is aggressive internal product ownership, for example, and the consulting firm comes back with an old school outsourcing approach - that simply won't be a fit. My advice to consulting firms is to think of embedding their talent into teams. A better ambition is supporting a continuous process that’s owned inside the company with staff augmentation and bar raising by the partnering firm. There should be significant opportunity in that model because talent is hard to find and companies need speed.

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Based on that logic, do you see companies getting into the transportation and telecommunication business too - especially given how critical it is to their employees collaborating?

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As a follow-up, what do you expect from your consulting partners? Where do they fall short?

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While I appreciate your candor, your POV seems to differ from what is happening in the marketplace. Organizations want to focus on their core business they are good at and partner with consulting companies good at what they do! I believe growing and managing every skillset internally would be an uphill task and not optimal use of resources IMHO!

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