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How a consultant’s career management will be reshaped by the arrival of new technologies ?

06 July 2020
By Cinthiya CHANEMOUGAME, Sébastien CACHEUX & Augustin du BESSET, Audencia Grande Ecole programme students

What will this profession look like in 10 years, 20 years or even more? Today, we ask ourselves this legitimate question with a certain optimism, but above all, with a lot of uncertainty (the French attitude no doubt).

Indeed, in this changing world in perpetual evolution, many doubts settle in our minds of future graduates ready to enter the job market. In a professional world undergoing rapid change and technological acceleration, one of the most common questions concerns the future of employment and the possibility or not of pursuing a career in a particular field.

It is not uncommon to hear that professions such as cashier, bank employee or even accountant will be impacted by the current technological revolution and that it seems difficult to imagine a career in these fields. Then what about a career in consulting? Considered as essential today in the eyes of companies going through changes, would this profession also be threatened? How will consultancy evolve and how do the actors of this field imagine their career in the near future? To answer these many questions, we discussed with Mr. Marc Boulay, human resources consultant for over 13 years at Willis Towers Watson (a multinational known for its risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory activities).

To begin with, we wanted to talk over with him the current trends of the field. Mr. Boulay stresses that consulting is still an attractive field for many young graduates. Anxious to develop a network, consultancy allows them to obtain diversified missions with different clients and increase their skills for their future careers.

 

During our interview, Mr. Boulay focused particularly on 2 points that will impact careers in consulting in the future:

- The mastery of new digital tools that will accompany future consultants throughout their careers

- The necessary development of business and behavioral skills to adapt to changes

Firstly, digital tools that will accompany future consultants throughout their careers. When we discuss with Mr. Boulay about the impact of these new technologies, the answer is blunt: “Of course, new technologies have changed our daily lives. We have faster access to available information and resources, we also communicate faster, share knowledge.” In order to help him in his various tasks throughout his career, a consultant uses many tools that will help him in his analysis and recommendations but also help him to allow his development within the company.

Dematerialization has already played an important role in helping the consultant as Mr. Boulay mentioned. Indeed, for him "dematerialization has enabled employees to activate a global network instantly", thereby knowing, for example, if a project similar to the one undertaken on his side has already been carried out elsewhere. According to Mr. Boulay, new technologies have radically changed the way a consultant works, with the arrival of instant communication on a global scale and the advent of collaborative tools that increase the responsiveness of employees.

This has drastically changed the career of consultants with immediate expectations from clients and the need for instantaneity on their part. As a result, it is true that new technologies, especially Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, help the consultant in his analysis of his client's needs. Mr. Boulay illustrates this with a study he conducted on absenteeism, where data analysis tools allowed his team to find links between complex data and data that did not seem to be related at first glance.

Tools such as AI, but also more simply the software made available to consultants, lighten their daily routine of repetitive tasks, allowing them to spend a significant part of their time on analysis and to create a human link. This constitutes a strong evolution of the consultant's job. Let us now move on to the question of the evolution of tools within the human resources department which directly impacts the consultant’s career. Today, a large part of the recruitment process is carried out digitally and sometimes even automated, such as the reading and sorting of CVs.

In the same way, skills assessments and follow-up are carried out by increasingly automated IT tools that allow consultants to advance their careers with measurable objectives. However, this support is for the moment common to all employees and lacks personalization. This is undoubtedly the next phase in the evolution of the tools that allow each individual to develop their own career. By integrating AI as close as possible to the development of employees, it will enable better economic and human results to be obtained.

But to do this, Mr. Boulay emphasizes that in order to cope with the permanent evolution of the tools made available to him in his work but also and above all to go with him in his career, he must be agile and able to change tools quickly and without losing performance.

 

To our question: "Describe in 3 words, the consultant of the future", Mr. Boulay did not hesitate: "Versatility", "Resilience" and "Agility".

Versatility, because he will not be able to stay in one area of expertise. His employer will want to see him in action in several fields.

Resilience because he will have to gather a considerable mass of knowledge and information in a limited time.

Finally, Agility because he will have to think outside the box and constantly (re)learn tools or techniques. Mr. Boulay particularly emphasizes this last term during our interview and for a specific reason: “What I learned 6 months ago on a tool is already outdated and I must be aware of the developments of this tool.” Mr. Boulay sums up perfectly the situation in one sentence: "the consultant of tomorrow will have to have the capacity to acquire and to forget."

And Mr. Boulay adds, "We will have to adapt constantly to events that we cannot predict." If this sentence seems, at first rather dark, it can also suggest great opportunities for the future, and in particular via new technologies which already have a preponderant role in consulting careers.

 

 

Who is Marc Boulay ? 

 After studying at Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence, Marc Boulay spent several years in a company specializing in mergers and acquisitions, followed by an interlude in communications at the Château de Versailles. After a "chance" meeting, he started human resources consulting at WTW.


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