South African consulting engineering companies are confronted with some fascinating trends that will shape our industry, now and even more so in future. One of the most influential trends we are seeing is the evolution of business models away from the traditional ones that have remained largely unchanged over the past few decades. The traditional client relationship for an engineering consultancy involves a client identifying a need and then approaching consultants to further define and ultimately solve the problem. Among many others, the need could include constructing a power, water or transport asset. In the traditional model, the consultancy would then charge the client for the time spent on the project. Risk primarily rests with the client in this model. We have noticed this traditional client-consultant business model evolving, particularly outside SA, as Chinese construction conglomerates enter the African business landscape. The Chinese model is primarily shaped around desig...

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