Can we challenge the role of technology in all aspects of life anymore? Certainly not! Consulting, for instance, has undergone a complete metamorphosis, thanks to technology – not just in the business processes, but also in terms of client value through novel solutions.
However, technology is a commodity today, not necessarily a differentiator. Outcome-based consultants, who are able to blend it well to solve real-life problems, will be able to make their mark. An analogy can be drawn with the food delivery businesses using technology to solve basic problems and fine-tune their supply chains so that they can get food delivered to doorsteps in the least possible time.
Technology, as a commodity, is available and the cost is not a deterrent anymore. But consultants would need a deep understanding to identify a problem and then use the right type of technology to solve it. It is also important to partner with the right technology providers for products and/or services. No technology can solve all problems and not all technologies can be mastered by all. Therefore, technology providers will have to be flexible, adaptable, and scalable.
Another point to consider is that technology is not for clients only; it is for your company too. The maxim is – to practice what you preach, what you implement for others. Else, your team will be able to talk theoretically but will be unable to deliver a tangible outcome.
Firms might also want to look at ‘productizing’ their services by using technology. For example, consider post-merger integration. A technology tool can show the client what it will do for them through visual aids. You can eventually make the product your sub-brand or a standalone brand under your umbrella.
I have used more than 150 different technology tools externally — from ROI calculators to project management systems — for different kinds of problems and clients. I have also used tech tools for internal automation and BI expertise. Along the way, I have realized that it is essential to blend technology into the skillset of each employee. A sound understanding of technology, along with hard skills and soft skills, and upskilling through regular training are extremely essential.
At Practus, we have a knowledge-sharing session on a technology called ‘Control+Alt+Profit’. Here, people demonstrate how they have leveraged technology to deliver value to clients. Interestingly, some people in the company have advanced from accountancy to technology, and have reached a level of understanding wherein they don’t require the help of developers.
At an organizational level, we have developed around 200 case studies on the use of technology from our years of outcome-based consultancy. We have worked on an automated forecasting model and automated budgeting tool, ERP systems, F&A restructuring, automated payout mechanism, automated bank reconciliation, automated order to cash process and P2P process, management dashboard to define and monitor key business metrics, automated product-level profitability monitoring, BI tool, MIS, cash flow, and internal control systems for many clients.
Clients today expect technology-enabled practical solutions. Deep domain understanding and technology will go hand-in-hand — and the perfect balance of these two will help determine success.