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DOUBLE SKILLS IN A CONSULTING CAREER : A SOUGHT-AFTER RARITY

02 July 2020
By Théophile Claudel & Octave de Lussac, Audencia Grande Ecole students

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A TECHNOLOGICAL BACKGROUND IN CONSULTING FIRMS?

 

Consulting has never been more in vogue than it is right now, and It will continue to grow. According to Statista, IT consulting was evaluated at $710 billion in 2016 and will be around $853 billion in 2021. But consulting has changed over the past few decades. Since 2000, digital transformation, or more broadly, technology-related to consulting, has exploded as companies need to digitize in a world that become more and more connected. This is where consultants with technical and consulting skills have a role to play. And this double knowledge is a real asset for consulting firms. But what are the added values of a dual skills consultant over other consultants? How could consulting firms benefit from a consultant with dual skills?

 

THE X AND Y BRAIN

The first thing that differentiates the consultant with a scientific background is the Cartesian and very logical spirit that characterizes this type of studies. Mr. Damien Rouault, data strategy consulting director at Keyrus Management expresses it with humor: "Precision is what makes the difference between making soap and TNT." Indeed, this rigor allows a more accurate estimation of feasibility and complexity and thus an increased credibility when making proposals, a key step in consulting. Mr. Rouault explains, “Some consultants give indicators saying it's simple, medium, complex but that's neither done nor to be done.” This appreciation of complexity provides no information and does not inspire confidence, and a scientific mind will not tend to have this type of reasoning because it is in contradiction with the reasoning acquired during scientific studies.

The consultant with a technological background is also the perfect connection between the business and its technological application. Mr. Rouault justifies it as follows: "The technological culture brings a plus on the ability to create methodologies that are coherent and to enrich them in terms of complexity." He has the ability to popularize technology in order to discuss strategy but also to discuss with the technological side while having a deep understanding.

 

“Due to the fact that every process has more and more a barycenter for processing steps by automation, it is necessary to have technological skills.”

Damien Rouault

DO NOT CHOOSE A SIDE!

Dual skills are relatively rare in consulting, and in the very early career of most consultants, a strong functional or technological direction is taken. Nevertheless, with a scientific technological training, the consultant has the possibility to stand in the center: he will be neither a functional expert nor a technical expert, but his ability to make the link, and the rarity of his skills will make him a very agile and valuable actor. The evolution in consulting being very standardized, a technical background will not necessarily allow to evolve faster or further. Nevertheless the possibilities of evolutions will be more important because of a larger range of competences.

It is very rare to have a consultant who is 50% technological and 50% business, because consultants, for the majority, decide to choose either to be 100% technological consultant or to be 100% business consultant. And Mr. Damien Rouault adds, “I’m the only one in my company who is still a 50% technological and 50% business consultant. They came looking for me and they paid a lot to work with me.” Moreover, the economic stakes are very important, and in a digital era like our own, it is essential to digitize the company if you don’t want to lose your clients. If they change and not you, it will be complicated, therefore having a 50/50 consultant is a real chance.

“Men are like numbers: they only acquire value by their position.”

Napoléon Bonaparte

Moreover, a consultant with a double competence badly positioned in a company is not exploiting his potential. The position of each consultant is primordial. As Mr. Damien Rouault said, “a double competence working on strategy is not using his full potential, while if you work on the action plan of a company which has technological needs, it’s perfect and a real asset.” Indeed, the understanding of the customers’ needs will be better, and the consultant will be able to meet the client’s needs more effectively.

In addition, having a double skill gives you more credibility, first with your client but also within your company. Mr. Damien Rouault says? “Sometimes my colleagues come to ask me a question about a technological solution for their project, and without working on their project, I can easily tell them if their solution is viable or not. I’m very popular in my company on these kinds of issues.” A technical background is missing in lots of consulting companies and they are in high demand because there is not enough of them in consulting firms.

The difference of thinking of the two types of consultants brings a diversity in this job. All that matters is to position the employees well and entrust them with the right assignments that highlight the unique skills they have. Doing this brings credibility and trust to the client who is only asking for the best possible expertise. The rarity of the double skills for a consultant is an enormous added value for the client and the consulting firms. It should not be underestimated either by the consulting firms or by the clients. High demands for high skills…

AN INTERESTING FUTURE

A double skills consultant is something quite new in the business. It will be interesting to know how it will be developed by the consulting firms. The demand of companies is more and more focused on IT - will the consulting firms be able to follow the demand? Will they develop software that gives automatic consultancy to companies like Transparency Lab? All those questions need to be considered by consulting firms over the few next years. To be continued…


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