Opportunity Areas

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Professional Services Innovation


Innovations, including technology, that augment or disrupt professional services sectors (e.g. law, political analysis, auditing)


Like the hospitality and tourism sector, professional services is one of DC’s largest after the federal government, and many industries within it are experiencing significant innovation. New technologies and approaches are being applied to increase productivity, as well as bring innovative offerings and improved service to clients. For example, apps specialized for industries such as consulting and accounting can meet clients’ increasing demands for mobile and digital professional services, as well as professionals’ own desire to use technology to enhance their work. Predictive analytics, workflow automation, and artificial intelligence are increasingly transforming how professional services are executed and delivered. Legalist, a data-backed litigation financing firm, uses a database of legal records to determine the likelihood that a case will succeed, funding the suit in exchange for up to 50% of the judgment.1 Artificial intelligence may also change how services are executed by, for instance, making legal discovery increasingly a technology-driven process.2 Enterprise technology also plays a crucial role in the back-end functions of professional services firms by improving collaboration and knowledge management and enabling access to the firm’s IT infrastructure on the road.

Example Industries and Businesses

  • Predictive analytics
  • Enterprise technology and integration of back-end functions
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Applications that improve client experience

Example Worker Specialties and Skills

  • Management consulting
  • Software development
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Data management and analytics
  • Business administration and development
  • IT support
  • Computer user support specialists

Visit the initiatives page and filter Opportunity Area by “Professional Services Innovation” to see initiatives related to this opportunity area.

DC’s Comparative Advantage

Based on our analysis and stakeholder interviews, DC has the following comparative advantages:

Strong Sector Expertise and Customer Base

The strong base of expertise, talent and infrastructure in professional services positions DC to continue growing these industries through innovation. District-based companies have significant expertise in law, public sector management and technology consulting, as well as federal government consulting. The federal government also serves as a major potential customer base. In addition, national and international associations, many of which have headquarters in DC, enhance the market for more efficient and integrated professional services and related technologies.3

Technology Capabilities

DC has strong technology capabilities to support professional services industries. This includes a highly-educated workforce and various startup accelerators, including 1776, technology and e-commerce focused GP Labs, Fortify, Accelerprise, and a pipeline of university-based entrepreneurial talent.4

Activating this Area of Growth

Based on our analysis of this sector and stakeholder interviews, the following actions could help develop this opportunity area:

Fostering Cross-Sector Collaboration

As with the hospitality innovation opportunity areas, creating opportunities for professional services companies to network with DC technology companies would allow tech firms to understand the challenges of these firms and explore new technologies. Many professional services firms are creating their own innovation centers that offer a tech or digital-focused space to host clients, for example Booz Allen’s Innovation Center located in downtown DC or Deloitte’s Greenhouse. Companies with versatile tech-focused spaces could serve as a meeting center for innovative professionals, such as accountants, lawyers, lobbyists and financial managers, developing cross-sector networks and promoting further collaboration.

Additional Resources:

Professional Services Innovation Overview– this document summarizes the key resources available to support the Professional Services Industry in DC.

  1. Thielman. Sam. “Peter Thiel has backed a startup that makes it easier to sue – and win.” The Guardian. 25 August 2016. <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/24/peter-thiel-legalist-startup-gawker-lawsuit>
  2. “7 Professional Services Technology Trends for 2015.” eMazzanti Technologies. 21 January 2015. <https://www.emazzanti.net/7-professional-services-technology-trends-for-2015/>
  3. “Destination DC Announces Record 2015 Visitation and FY2017 Plans at the Annual Marketing Outlook Meeting.” <https://washington.org/press/press-release/2016-marketing-outlook-meeting>.
  4. “GP Tech Labs.” GP Tech Labs. Accessed 21 December 2016. <http://www.gptechlabs.com/>