Consulting Skills, now and in the future
Traditional consulting versus gig economy…
Organisations across the world are increasingly looking for new and improved ways that will make work attractive, flexible and in the same bid, retain top talent during the automation and digital age that we are in now. Emerging technology has indeed ushered in a drastic change in differing roles and responsibilities as well as changes in skill set that they possessed. Contingent and gig economy workers have paved way for more size, shape, composition of the general workplace structure. In this scenario, we have seen a rapid improvement in workplace competencies.
Statistically speaking, there will always be a greater number of smart people outside the organization than within it. The right skill is the hunch irrespective of whether they come from within or beyond our corporate boundaries.
Skills and Current Demand
There are quite a number of consulting outfits that focus majorly on areas like strategic services, technology planning and management consulting. There are consultants in the freelance business who aid the school system and universities make better programs for students for better financial aid. There are consultants in sports, investment banking, publishing, and accounting firms. Traditionally, everyone with a marketable skill cab become a consultant but be great as well as a successful consultant in any domain were special qualities and skills are essential.
In the area of consulting, there are two basic career paths — generalist or specialist. For a generalist, the prime focus is on broad improvement of the company. Here, you find personnel with numerous industry skills including Information Technology, accounting and business management that they combine to give organisations a plan to improve the situation. For a specialist, the focus is on one specific area, including writing, human resource, skill-building, accounting practice (Barnes et al, 2012).
Consulting is a group project and thus, the importance of having diverse skills, one of which is team work or ability to work with other people. One has to be able to socialise, co-operate, listen and speak in a group and handle other people in the group professionally. If one is having difficulty in enduring long hours of collaboration, then the intended line of work is not suited to the person. Aside, from being good with people which is another equally important quality needed to consult which is being service-oriented personality — you have to be motivated by meeting all of the needs of your clientele base. Being excellent in your area of consulting is quite essential to fulfilling client requirements.
Working with other people as a consultant also requires leadership skills and the ability to come up with bespoke ideas that are logical-based. You are strategically in-charge of improving every aspect of the business or company. The managers and owners are increasingly looking to you to tell them to make their corporations better (Biswas et al, 2012). It is essential to come into every job with a fountain of ideas that are quite reasonable and useful as well and be ready to take charge and get started on the job. In this stead, there is no room for letting some else take charge of your responsibility and also, when it comes to the application of professionalism in consulting, you are the only that can make yourself a success.
Problem solving skill is also critical, because the answer to consulting may be convenient but the execution thereof; is not always simple. In tackling other types of businesses with different policies and rules, depending on one answer to a problem to be the only answer is not only unacceptable. In approaching all kinds of business, with different kind of rules and policies, it is also important to strategize and think of many solutions to the problem (Susan et al, 2005).
The number one specialised skill may be in management or information technology. There are also, other basic but essential skills. It is important to also have great writing skill, specialised skill in management or IT coupled with strong business acumen, presentation skills, basic computer skills and listening skills. These capabilities are quite needed to open the door with a company you would like to work with. Part of the decision of becoming a consultant, demands you sharpen your skills in a specific area or niche. Your resume must be good and appreciable with strong emphasis on skills, educational backgrounds, and cognate experience in the area of choice. In an interview, the areas of concentration will most likely come from your ability to do the job effectively even better than the previous hire, your eagerness to learn and grow and functional knowledge as well.
Networking and strong presence is required including of course, relationship consulting. Problem solving skill is also critical, because the answer to consulting may be convenient but the execution thereof; is not always simple. In tackling other types of businesses with different policies and rules, depending on one answer to a problem to be the only answer is not only unacceptable. In approaching all kinds of business, with different kind of rules and policies, it is also important to strategize and think of many solutions to the problem.
There are websites or online workplace market that you can look to for help, in finding consulting jobs. Upwork.com has job postings for freelance, contract, and part-time employment for consultants in every career field — the list also includes peopleperhour.com, kolabtree.com, guru.com and a host of others in the radar. Hard work is required in consulting with long hours and high pressure requirements. We also have tight deadlines and even people who are quite tougher that you have to work with or get along with. The upside is, consultants always make a lot of money and usually do something that they enjoy and are good at. The most essential thing to bear in mind when accessing a career path in consulting, is personality, skills, and what the job offers a mid to long-term goal. The employers are increasingly looking to you to tell them to make their corporations better. It is essential to come into every job with a fountain of ideas that are quite reasonable and useful as well and be ready to take charge and get started on the job. In this stead, there is no room for letting some else take charge of your responsibility and also, when it comes to the application of professionalism in consulting, you are the only that can make yourself a success (Zipursky, 2016).
There are six themes that will define the Future of Consulting Given these forces, what will consultancies look like in five years?
Based on an interview carried out on 30 consulting leaders where they were asked questions on services, revenue models, delivery methods and career paths. Based on the definition of consulting, from pure strategy advice to design perspective — we also look at varied implementation of business models, who understand the breadth of consulting partners. This includes traditional firms like Deloitte; small firms like Senn Delaney; technology-oriented firms building up these capabilities such as Prodyna; and traditional outsourcers that have added management consulting services such as Infosys. These were divided into six themes.
Table 2: Six Themes Of Consulting In 2020
Traditional high revenue, technical work will shrink and change
Asset based consulting will change revenue and delivery models
Projects will be smaller, global, more virtual and will use centers
Pure strategy projects with static deliverables will shrink rapidly
Organizational change management will become a science; enhanced by data and software
Contracts will shift incrementally to gain sharing, licenses and retainers
The Future of Consulting: Thoughts on how the Industry Should Evolve
In an excellent HBR article by Clayton Christensen, Dina Wang, and Derek van Bever, two foundations of traditional consulting — and most importantly the strategic model exemplified by Bain and company, BCG and McKinsey — have steadily eroded: opacity and agility. The opacity of yester-years — represented by a team of high-cognitive overachievers developing frameworks and performing analysis behind closed doors — contributed to the mystery, and hence the prestige, of consulting brands. Likewise, consultants’ ability to generate output very quickly was impressive, particularly in contrast to what client teams could accomplish.
In this modern day, opacity is a common characteristics in a compelling value proposition. Clients are found to be less receptive to a segregated work environment where work culture is second class — this is especially true for employees who were once consultants in their respective niche, this is statistically true as the day progresses. Secondly, discretionary spending is well more closely related to diminishing the appetite for big-ticket consulting contracts. Finally, the ubiquity of information means there are even fewer custodians of this type of arrangement. There is a long list of infrastructure — Google Docs, Go-to-Meetings, Skype, Zoom, Facetime and a host of other technology help mates that has revolutionised the consultancy world. Technology has indeed saw through insights and seen steady developments in connecting experts, specialist electronically through a source, removing sluggishness in comparison to traditional mode of consultation (Susan et al, 2005).
What Next Now?
We explore the future of consulting by looking at a brief look at commonplace terms in the industry, each representing a go-to-market strategy of consulting firms, including: “tip of the spear,” “utilization,” “operating model,” and “trusted advisor.”
Reimagining “Tip of the Spear”
Conventionally, reimagining “tip of the spear” is strategically marked to secure longer and more financially alluring projects for implementation. The ‘tip-of-the-spear’ mind-set points to two assumptions. Firstly, it assumes that there exist a linear relationship between implementation and strategy — and that is the latter should take queue from the former, assuming the strategy phase pre-defines bias in the implementation of work.
The leadership consulting teams are also duly tied to corporate utilisation and defined as a percentage of the workforce that is billable at any given time. Considerable efforts is also spent trying to match demand and supply and of course, balancing the two as key drivers of profitability. This also significantly affects employee morale when there is a miscalculations in occurrence.
Reimagining “Operating Model”
In large consulting firms especially, operating model re-design is typically between 4–6 years. Such firms usually have a structure that allows different degrees of emphasis on function or industry. Quite a number of regular adjustments are a rational response to market fluidity which is completely disruptive to the enterprise. Besides that whatever, the specifics of re-organisation, the essential reporting relationship continues to be top-down.
Reimagining “Trusted Advisor”
Trust has always being at the centre of advisory relationship. The source of trust includes competence, transparency, understanding and impartiality and will remain the same. However, the manner in which these trusted advisory are demonstrated should change in the face of the current trend. Based on competence and based off the past, cultivating a sense of exclusivity is priceless and needed to drive work place demand from the point of the organisation.
The upside in consulting is that consultant can quickly scale and climb up the income ladder and also get the chance to do something that they enjoy and are good at. The most essential thing to bear in mind when accessing a career path in consulting, is personality, skills, and what the job offers a mid to long-term goal. The employers are increasingly looking to you to tell them to make their corporations better. It is essential to come into every job with a fountain of ideas that are quite reasonable and useful as well and be ready to take charge and get started on the job. In this stead, there is no room for letting some else take charge of your responsibility and also, when it comes to the application of professionalism in consulting, you are the only that can make yourself a success.
Archer R., Bowker P. (1995), BPR consulting: an evaluation of the methods employed, Business Process Reengineering & Management Journal, 2/1995, pp. 28–46.
Barnes B.K., Scott B.(2012), The influential internal consultant, Industrial and Commercial Training, pp. 408–4015.
Biswas S., Twitchell D. (2002), Management consulting: a complete guide to the industry, New York, p. 23
Susan M. Adams, Alberto Zanzi, (2005) “The consulting career in transition: from partnership to corporate”, Career Development International, Vol. 10 Issue: 4, pp.325–338, https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430510609154