The latest PM Forum annual conference had innovative speakers from inside and outside of professional services. To name but a few personal highlights, we were shown some key methods for keeping up with the future of your industry, how to develop relationships globally and how to make yourself indispensable.

I won’t relay all the details, but there were two talks in the morning I attended, which I have thought a lot about since.  The first was the event kick-off by Andrew Grill, the practical futurist and Global Managing Partner of IBM Consulting. He immediately took us out of the professional-services-as-we-know-it comfort zone by opening our eyes to how rapidly changing the global market of buying and selling truly is, and will only continue to be. 

Key highlights


A keynote speaker in digital transformation, digital strategy and social media networks, Andrew highlighted how no sector can escape digital transformation and innovative technology, especially those whose foundations were not built in the digital age. He drove this message home with a startling fact: 52% of the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 are now gone.

Professional services face one of the most difficult challenges in this digital change. But it is also an incredible opportunity to rise above competitors. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a big topic of the past few years, but we should also be thinking about Quantum Computing, IoT, Blockchain, Hybrid Cloud, Smart Contracts, and so on... If you don’t know what these are, Andrew implores you to research now!

Businesses were urged to seek ‘digital diversity’. Ensuring that you represent different approaches to digital (think of including Gen Y in your meetings) creates the most beneficial atmosphere for ensuring your audience/client is reached, and their desires (thus the market demands) are kept up with. By creating an open forum for digital opinions, you will capture the widest possible audience, and moreover engage with them in a more effective way, growing your business prospects.

Another talk that stood out to me was Allan Evans, Global Head of BD and Marketing responsible for the international network of accountancy firms run by BDO. Allan provided tips and comical personal experience of developing relationships in an increasingly global market, focusing on the importance of the personal element in developing strong working/client relationships. 

Fun fact: 20 cities were home to over one third of the world’s big businesses in 2010; by 2025, predictions expect that to have grown to over 330 cities globally. The question (again) is: how do we keep up?

In short, Allan’s advice is to appreciate that although you may be communicating through the same medium (say email or phone), with a common end goal (winning a pitch), the values of each participant on a cultural (and indeed individual) level will greatly affect their methods in achieving the desired result. Technology is allowing global markets but we must not forget the people behind the machines, making the decisions.

The whole event provided fascinating insights into a rapidly changing big picture, encouraging me to sit back and consider my own approach – in particular, how to maximise my digital outputs, and hopefully in a more personal and engaging way.

For more from Andrew Grill visit his blog: and Allan Evans on his Twitter @allanevo 







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