Professional Problem-Solving: What is Technology Consulting?

By Gemma Penson - Computer Science Student @ Trinity Hall, Cambridge

 

Technology is an incredibly diverse, dynamic and exciting industry with a never-ending pool of opportunities when it comes to your career. While some students choose to enter highly technical jobs, such as research science, software development and data science, others choose to embrace their inner people person and become digital marketers, help desk technicians, or tech journalists. Technology consulting is a great way to blend these two components together!


Your life is likely assisted by computers, automation and machinery in so many ways, and the same is true for global businesses worldwide. It’s unlikely, however, for these businesses and their leaders to keep up with the capricious technology space, and startups often don’t have the funds to hire a full-time techie. Some companies are even just too oblivious of how tech can streamline their operations, or cautious about how to get started.


This is where consultancy comes in! Technology consultants act as a guiding light for their clients by providing unique, objective and specialized support. Their aim is to transform the way clients use and think about tech, in a format that fits their unique business needs, to make their software, systems and smart devices a lever for business success.


Ok… but how does this look in practice? Consultancy is an end-to-end service, so a firm could be designing, coding, testing and deploying a bespoke piece of software before helping their client maintain it. Alternatively, they could simply be matching the client’s problem to a range of potential technological solutions already on the market, without creating anything themselves. What the specific consultancy looks like depends on the client’s size, budget and own technical know-how, in addition to the urgency of a solution.


Despite the broad range of problems, methods and clients, there are some common client objectives. These include mitigating risk, reducing cost, attracting and growing talent and streamlining repetitive tasks. Questions a consultant may be answering include:

  • How can you source IT from Africa?

  • What is the best enterprise social network for me to launch a new campaign on?

  • When might there be an unusually high volume day for the emergency room, and how can they adapt?

These all likely require a consultant to not only be on top of the latest culture shifts, trends and innovations, but also be knowledgeable about what’s coming down the pipeline. You’ll therefore be one of the first to try out all kinds of weird & wacky tech, ready to understand its features and how they can help drive positive change! Bear in mind that this is a double-edged sword though, as a lot of consultants then end up spending extra time outside of work trying to keep up with the industry.


In addition to having a technical awareness, consultancy is also all about flexibility.

According to Aisling Tumelty, a technology consultant with PwC, “because you’re out with different clients all the time with different cultures and environments, you need to be able to adapt accordingly”. An attention to detail to help you spot potentially disastrous errors and the ability to multitask, communicate and adapt under pressure are also part of the course for all the best consultants. Consultants are generally very busy people, so efficiency is key.


As the brightest ideas often come from thinking outside of the box and perceiving the bigger picture, a lot of consultancy firms welcome students from a variety of different disciplines. A diverse talent pool means a diverse set of ideas! This makes consulting a great entryway to tech for those who have previously only dabbled in humanity subjects.


In fact, according to Bright Network, some consultancies even prefer graduates from a non-technical background. These students are unlikely to become fixated on the finer implementation details like a programmer has to, and often put more emphasis on the culture, people and economics of the solution.


Although there’s a wide range of firms in the sector, the “big 4” are the world’s largest consulting firms, accounting for nearly 40% of the industry’s $150 billion global market. These are PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG, a;though the biggest providers of tech consulting specifically are Deloitte, Accenture and IBM. These companies offer a range of free insight events for sixth-form students, so check their websites if you’d like to know more!


Further reading:

  1. 2020. FDM Group. What is a Technology Consultant? Available at: <https://www.fdmgroup.com/what-is-a-technology-consultant/>

  2. 2021. Bright Network. A Bright Guide to Technology Consulting. Available at: <https://www.brightnetwork.co.uk/career-path-guides/technology-consulting-project-management/bright-guide-technology-consulting/>

  3. 2017. Darmody, Jenny. Silicon Republic. How to be a technology consultant in 5 easy(ish) steps. Available at: <https://www.siliconrepublic.com/advice/technology-consultant-job-how-to>

  4. 2021. Bright Network. Breaking into Tech Consulting with a Humanities degree. Available at: <https://www.brightnetwork.co.uk/career-path-guides/technology-consulting-project-management/with-humanities/>

  5. 2011. Meek, Glyn. Computerworld. CoIT consultants: The good, the bad and the downright incompetent, part 1. Available at: <https://www.computerworld.com/article/2471113/it-consultants--the-good--the-bad-and-the-downright-incompetent--part-1.html>