Greater efficiency is the single biggest challenge where businesses need consultant support, according to research from the Management Consultancies Association (MCA).
Almost half (47%) of companies cited efficiency as the greatest concern in a survey, while Brexit came in second place with 40%.
Other areas of concern included dealing with disruption from AI and automation (34%), and recruiting and retaining staff (32%).
However, there are differences between sectors. More than half of those in financial services and manufacturing see Brexit as the main challenge for business.
In contrast, just 30% of decision makers in government and public sector take this view, with 65% seeing efficiency as the leading business challenge.
The findings are from a poll of 250 UK industry decision makers from the public and private sectors, conducted by market research company Viga in September 2018.
It found that the use of consultants is commonplace across large and small companies, with 84% of organisations using consulting services.
But one in five firms said that the performance of management consultants had been below their expectations.
Consultants are valued most when they provide help such as transformational support, knowledge transfer, efficiency, and support with digital challenges.
Company bosses predict that dealing with digital and technological issues, as well as business transformation and strategy, are the areas where they will need most help from consultants on in the future.
Tamzen Isacsson, chief executive, MCA, commented: “Brexit is of critical concern to many businesses across the UK, but, as this study shows, there are many other pressing business issues that companies need to focus on to remain competitive and grow.”
She added: “It's vitally important that businesses get certainty as soon as possible this month on our future relationship with Europe so they can plan and prepare for Brexit and then get on with the important job of improving the efficiency of their organisations.”
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