That’s an onion question with a multi-layered answer. Yes, you can, but also depends on your qualification and talent. Let’s explain.
Certainly, besides the fat purse, consulting offers you countless pluses. But it has not been everyone’s playground!
For decades, management consulting has been very much a homogeneous field. Professionals at top firms like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG consultants had the same background and would handle any project.
But now the digital revolution has changed all that. With its swiftly changing industrial reality dictating how things work, it has created the digital transformation consultancy niche, where the old recruitment approaches no longer work.
Consultancy firms now have specialist divisions like McKinsey Digital and BCG Gamma, which have created unprecedented opportunities for professionals, who otherwise wouldn’t meet traditional consulting background requirements. Read on.
Roles of a Digital Consultant
The need for specialist digital consultants has led to the rise of a new niche – the digital transformation.
Like a management consultant, a digital consultant seeks to enhance a company’s performance, but on the technical side to make the client achieve its long-term strategic objectives.
While companies can hire a full-time employee for this role, digital transformation consultants can work for a consulting company or independent contractor.
Digital consultants work with multiple departments within a company, including technical personnel, customer service personnel, marketing personnel, and even product managers. They also work hand in hand with the management and submit their recommendations to the top management for approvals.
As an in-house consultant, your task could be educating clients on digitisation products in correspondence to their budget and needs.
Digital consultants people who are passionate about technology. So they spend most of their time focusing on:
- Digital enablement by transforming customer experience
- Identifying cybersecurity threats and enacting protection measures to ensure data confidentiality.
- Optimising a company’s system architecture and infrastructure.
- Optimising application management.
Digital Transformation – It’s up or out
If you think the management consultancy industry’s “up or out” practice is hard-nosed, then how would you describe digitisation?
Computing and the internet revolution has drastically changed human experiences, among them, how we do businesses.
Technology has particularly forced companies to conform, with those failing being swept aside to extinction by the tidal wave of progress. History has cautionary tales of giants that failed to innovate and were overtaken by those willing to evolve. From Yahoo and MySpace to Motorola and Nokia, we all know too well their stories.
Consulting Opportunities from Digitization
The sweeping wave of change may be leaving casualties, but for the consulting sector, like many other sectors, there are more opportunities. But this time, the problems are more specific and technically-taxing.
Many sectors have emerged from the dust of the nonconformists. From online trade to the advent of the gig economy and many others. They are all centred on the internet and mobile phones. Marketing also is now much easier than it was a decade ago way back to ancient times.
With data-centred businesses, target marketing has never been easier. But there is a need to store and quickly analyse huge chunks of data, which calls for data analysts and scientists.
Also, this storage of this data has an intrinsic threat, which calls for cybersecurity.
All these are opportunities for McKinsey and their ilks, which have already made a name in consulting. But only those companies that get the right talent adequately enjoy benefits and the prestige of continuous work. So, they have to staff, but this time, purely tech talent.
How Consultancy Recruits for Digital Consultant Position
Unlike the management consultancy of yesteryears, when the firms had a strict way of identifying talent, technology, and innovation now force them to bring in a special type of expertise.
Earlier, joining management consultancy needed a proper education with a stellar performance in the core subjects. It was considered an MBA student’s next big step after graduation, though an MBA was never really a strict requirement.
Top recruiting firms would go to high business schools to make an attractive sales pitch to lure the top students, who would easily make up their mind, attracted by the fancy life of high-profile and lucrative careers.
Well, it was pretty easy for recruiting firms to get the right talent. But that’s because the professionals were not expected to have any particular knowledge base or experience at the onset. These firms had ways and the capacity to spot talent when they saw one.
Still, management consultants use this approach in hiring, from strategy consulting to design, where projects rarely match their handlers’ professional expertise. Take a hypothetical case where a marketing degree holder handles the planning of the implementation of an engineering project.
Changing Recruitment Process
So, when it comes to more technical roles, more firms tend to bend towards specialism as there’s an increasing demand for special tech talent. Ideally, technology recruits need special skills.
For example, joining Digital McKinsey is akin to saying you are a technology major, even though you may do a mix of technology and non-technology focused engagements. The wing hosts top designers, agile engineers, data scientists, software specialists, and coaches.
In a nutshell, consultancies recruit experts for the required position, preferably with the background knowledge in that specific field. While these boffins work hand in hand with other experts, they bring hyper-specific and highly technical skills onboard.
These experts may have learned from work experience in the industry or have shown strong academic background in the quoted field. For example, they hire programmers directly from MIT or tech firms, or computer scientists from academia.
What can you offer?
Back to your question, can you be a digital consultant? Yes, you can. You can either work privately as a consultant or join a consultancy firm like McKinsey.
Forget about an MBA! What digital consultancy needs is a strong computing or programming experience, with a strong qualification in computer science. You don’t need to have studied business or some business-related course. To your surprise, a firm can seek out if you show incredible skill in their interest area, even if you don’t have a degree.
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