The knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) sector is a highly dynamic sector, which is constantly growing and
rapidly evolving. Given the significance of this sector, it is important to understand what is likely to impact on its
development in the future. In order to develop an understanding of potential factors that could influence the sector, a
series of scenarios have been devised. These scenarios do not aim to provide a forecast of the sector, but rather to identify
possible future drivers and how they may affect the KIBS sector in the future.
Four scenarios have been developed around the three themes of globalisation, skills development in emerging nations,
and technological progress. The reasons for such a focus are as follows.
Globalisation is having a large impact on KIBS in terms of markets as well production. For some KIBS companies,
globalisation has enabled them to offshore production, while for others it represents new markets and opportunities for
expansion and acquisition.
Skills development in emerging nations refers to the fact that not only is the size of the international KIBS market
expanding, but also the labour market and productive capability of developing countries is increasing. Increased skills
levels and growing export levels mean that developing countries are no longer simply markets and locations for
offshoring, but also competitors in their own right.
Technological progress also impacts enormously on the development of KIBS. Improvements in information and
communication technologies (ICT) mean that it is becoming easier to share knowledge and information; such
inprovements also enable businesses to penetrate international markets. Technological progress can also lead to
increased automation in KIBS sectors, which can help to reduce costs; however, it may also result in some lower valueadded employment being displaced.
The scenarios in this report are based around these key themes, giving an outline of possible outcomes that are closely
connected to such themes. To an extent, the three core themes are interconnected and the scenarios represent a way of
understanding the particular drivers of potential change that could impact on any of these factors. The four scenarios
outlined are as follows: