1990-2001
1990s

Decade begins with end of the Cold War and significant corporate retrenchment due to reengineering and layoffs. Later, this helps account for unusually high corporate profits and a stock market boom. Halcyon days for consultants, as demand skyrockets especially at Big Six firms. Consulting becomes the single most popular employment area at top MBA programs.

1992: David Norton starts Renaissance Strategy Group after selling Nolan Norton & Co to Peat Marwick.

1993: An influential article in Fortune on EVASM helps the business practice of Stern Stewart & Co. take off. The basic intuition is that firms should provide incentives to their managers based on cash flows less a risk-based charge on capital employed. This technique was used by Coca-Cola to achieve spectacular stock market returns. Many other consultants pick up on the idea of value-based management and carry it forward.

1994: EDS announces it is starting its own management consulting division. Doesn't go well. Then announces a purchase of A. T. Kearney, traditionally strong in operations and technology. Kearney retains its name and gains even stronger technology know-how to take to its clients.

1994: Six ex-McKinsey consultants who had left for A. T. Kearney decide to start their own financial services consultancy, Mitchell Madison Group. The firm has doubled in size every six months since then and helps a variety of banks and investment firms to grow and control costs.

1995: Consulting firms are very aggressive in hiring MBAs. Average starting salary at top schools is $76,000 for consultants -- a considerable premium over most opportunities elsewhere. Thirty-five percent of students at top schools enter the field!

1995: Linda Yates and Gary Hamel found Strategos, a consultancy with a strong presence in Europe and the West Coast. Many members join from Gemini Consulting which was created by a merger of United Research and the MAC Group.

1995-98: The Big Six Firms become the Big Five after the merger of Price Waterhouse and Coopers. Spectacular growth experienced in this later of the market, motivated in part by the growth of IT and demand for implementation-oriented consulting.

1996: Bossard is acquired by Cap Gemini. The company is fully integrated into Gemini Consulting by 1998.

1996: APM, the largest strategic health care practice, is acquired by CSC.

1997: Jim Champy, one of the most influential consultants of all time leaves CSC Index for Perot Systems. Read an article in Consultants News.

1997: Dwight Gertz, a strong growth advocate and key thought leader at Mercer Management Consulting, leaves to become CEO of Symmetrix.

1998: Deloitte & Touche Consulting launches an unprecedented advertising campaign that criticizes the work of leading strategy consultancies as ignoring implementation. These firms choose not to respond publicly. The campaign seems to indicate increasing pressure on consultants to stand out in a crowded marketplace. A D&T rival, Andersen Consulting, widely advertises with pictures of eagles making off with giant fish and elephants miraculously walking on logs.

1998: Growth in consulting seems unstoppable. Competition for talent is enormous. MBA starting packages in the $90s are now routine. With bonus some get over $120,000.

1998: Dissension at Anderson Consulting is publicly aired as accountants and consultants square off over revenue sharing. This is aggravated by Arthur Andersen's desire to grow its middle market consulting business.

1999: I-builders such as Scient grow out of nowhere, following in the footsteps of Andersen Consulting and IBM.

2000: Great Internet Crash brings tough times to the IT consultants such as Cambridge Technologies, Organic, Scient and Viant.

2001: Accenture emerges as the old Andersen Consulting with a heavy advertising campaign in the Super Bowl.

KPMG goes public.

2001: Marchfirst crashes. The company was an unprecedented attempt to consolidate IT consulting.


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