IBM hits top spot in thought leadership rankings

IBM’s unswerving focus on quality at the cost of volume has seen it knock perennial high-performer BCG off the top spot of the White Space Thought Leadership Rankings - released on 24th February 2014. This is the first time in many years that a strategy firm has not led the rankings.

The report says that with pieces like Trusting the science that drives your business: A systematic approach to verify scientific claims, it’s easy to see the benefits of IBM’s strategy – something that White Space has been imploring many firms to consider employing for some time.

The other high performers for the second half of 2013 were Deloitte (2nd), BCG (3rd), Roland Berger (4th), and Capgemini Consulting (5th) - the table showing the top ten firms is copied below. The report says that Deloitte’s rise to second place is an important lesson of the impact that simply getting organised around thought leadership can make - in Deloitte’s case through Deloitte University Press. Pieces like Digital commerce in the supermarket aisle: Strategies for CPG brands is as good as you’ll find anywhere right now.


Quality rankings for the second half of 2013 - top 10

1. IBM
2. Deloitte
3. BCG
4. Roland Berger
5. Capgemini Consulting
6. Hay Group
7. Accenture
8. PwC
9. Booz Allen
10. EY


Consistency is key…

This White Space report also marks the first time that variance (or consistency) in the quality of material published by consulting firms has been included as a measure. 

Fiona Czerniawska, Joint Managing Director at Source Information Services and founder of White Space said: “Without consistency, consulting firms run the risk of undoing much of their hard work. Working on the assumption that few clients will take the time to read all of a firm’s material, and therefore, that means it runs the risk that some clients will only see the bad stuff. How many people, having seen a bad piece, will give the firm a second chance when something better comes along?”

“This is partly why IBM has hit the top of our rankings, but they have also ranked highly for so many of our measures including differentiation, resilience, and the extent to which their material prompts action in the readers.” 

 Comparing ranks and scores in the second half of 2013 with those in the first half provides an insight into those firms that have made the most significant improvement in the quality of their thought leadership. Once again, IBM features top followed by PA Consulting and Arthur D. Little.


The strategy debate

As BCG is knocked off the top spot, the report says it’s not because BCG has slowed down – it’s just been overtaken by two firms who are speeding up. However, the report asks whether there is more significance to the strategy firms vacating the top spot for the first time in many years. It says that for strategy firms as a whole it’s hard not to wonder if there might be: they occupy more lowly positions than they have ever done, and all of the big names that have loomed large in thought leadership terms for so long appear to be on the slide at the same time. For BCG specifically, this is probably not the case – but compared with IBM and Deloitte their material doesn’t dazzle to quite the same extent, and it’s possible that a lot could be achieved by refreshing the look and feel of what it publishes. 

White Space includes thought leadership from about 30 of the world’s leading consulting firms, all categorised and searchable by service, sector and geography. In addition to White Space ratings reports, there are quick links to some of the best thought leadership relevant to various different services and sectors.


For more information on White Space contact Julie Ahadi or telephone +44 (0) 203 700 5461+44 (0) 203 700 5461 /visit




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