Adding Flavor to Consulting

We live in a culture that’s been hijacked by the management consultant ethos. We want everything boiled down to a Power Point slide. We want metrics and ‘show me the numbers.’ That runs counter to the immensely complex nature of so many social, economic and political problems. You cannot devise an algorithm to fix them- Carl Honore

Just a few short years ago, an organization would call in a consultant to advise it on strategy or how to diversify and scale up or to sort out people issues, among others. Today, consultants are pretty much called in to advise on one underlying theme: how to deal with the disruptions caused by digital technologies.

Nowadays, Banks want to target a younger demography or retailers want to become enable to sell products, anytime, anywhere. The majority of clientele wants to know what the strategy should be going ahead, given the massive disruption digital is causing.

Change in legacy organizations has to be a gradual process: Keeping the lights on, keeping things happening more efficiently- It is all about ‘running better’– and reinvesting that money into ‘running different’.

Tech companies are in a sweet spot where they can do both visioning of where an industry is headed and also make that a reality because digital requires both technology as well as industry and consulting experience. Companies like Cognizant, Infosys, IBM, Google etc. have a unique advantage as their tech layer is strong and they were ahead of the curve in investing in IoT/ SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies. Today, clients are looking for end-to-end capability, they want strategy and also expertise to enable it.

Companies hire MBAs into Business Consulting (BC) and groom them to become solid management consultants. The roles they come in would be a factor of their past experience and their passion. Many of them join as consultants for industry practices. Organizations also take in consultants in other generic roles as part of corporate strategy or business development.

The bar [of B-school hiring] is getting higher. Many of the hires now come on board with work experience prior to an MBA. The depth of industry experience does help, but it’s changing. Consulting earlier was about a problem, finding who has done it better and offering solutions to your client. In the digital era, consulting is about an opportunity that no one has thought of before and how you figure it out. It’s a lot more open-ended. So conceptualization and creativity are more important and you have to link them back to an industry context. Clients are increasingly asking where their industry is headed, what’s new and what’s next.

“My view point”

Ankit Singhal