The terms 'consultancy' and 'consulting' can in essence refer to many different advisory disciplines, varying from architecture and engineering to management consulting or financial advisory. Industry analysts estimate that over 200 different types of consulting areas can be distinguished, the result of dozens of combinations of different sector and expertise areas. However, ever since the spectacular rise of the consulting sector from the mid-1960s onwards, the term 'consulting' has increasingly been associated with management- and business consulting services. As a result, when people refer to the consulting industry, they often refer to the market related to advisory services in the field of strategy, management and organisation.
Over the past years, experts have proposed several different typologies how to define and value the consulting industry. Yet in practice representative bodies such as the MCA, FEACO and analyst firms such as ALM Intelligence (formerly Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory), Gartner, IDC or Source Global Research all apply different definitions of the consulting market, and as a result among others market sizes, segments, competitor information and forecasts differ.
The typology of the US-based analyst firm partitions the consulting industry into six main segments:
1) Strategy Consulting
Strategic consulting services aimed at corporate / business unit strategy or government policy.
2) Management Consulting
Consulting services that deal with management, business and organisational matters.
3) Operations Consulting
Focuses on operational performance, spanning supply chain, procurement, finance and outsourcing.
4) HR Consulting
Advisory services that revolve around human capital matters and/or offerings aimed at the HR function.
5) Financial Advisory
Financial based consulting services such as corporate finance, restructuring and actuarial services.
6) IT Consulting
Technology services aimed at improving and managing the IT-infrastructure of organisations.