What does a typical technology consultant role entail?
Great question. One of the best things about the role is it doesn’t carry too many specific expectations. Breaking it down, roles I take on generally have a consultative element where we are presented with a business challenge – e.g.,“I want to build a new data platform, but I don’t know what that platform needs to do”. In these instances, I need to conduct stakeholder interviews and workshops, synthesise information, add my own insight, and present those findings back in a way that tells a story and that answers the original problem statement.
Of course, the other side of the role is the word technology. I’ve always had a keen interest in technology and have worked with many businesses that use technology solutions to varying degrees, whether that be business software applications like trade ledgers or instrumented industrial machines. When I start working with a new client, they expect me to have a good understanding of how businesses typically approach the lifecycle management of designing, procuring, building, running, and decommissioning technology solutions. Where I don’t have the understanding that matches the new project, I learn fast!
Overall, my role is typically to take a leading role in projects where we need to work with technologists to understand a business challenge. We frame it in a way that everyone can understand, work out the options to meet that challenge, weigh those up, and help recommend the next course of action. I typically provide a lot of advice on what I would consider good practice from ways I’ve seen similar challenges solved – for example, how to set up a good software delivery pipeline using modern tooling and practices. Where I don’t have that experience, I have an awesome team of technology professionals that work alongside me who do.
Where do you see the future of technology consulting?
Technology is increasingly a source of differentiation for businesses across all sectors. There are certain industries where the term “digital transformation" has been on the table for a long time and where modern upstarts are approaching those industries with a technology-first mindset. This heaps pressure on incumbents to up their technology game, which often requires external support in providing a sense of outside perspective, expertise, and experience. I only see that increasing in the coming years as companies battle with pivoting their view of ‘Core IT' functions from ‘business support' to ‘business differentiator'.
With that trend well in-flight, Consultants working in this space need to be more technology literate themselves, with practical experience of being embedded in modern professional software engineering teams running modern pipelines and tech stacks. Understanding modern public cloud platform offerings is also key. The future of many technology teams lies in consuming a combination of software as a service (SaaS) offerings for common capabilities and targeting bespoke build at high-value business-differentiating applications, that may themselves be built natively on cloud infrastructure.
The great thing about technology is it’s always advancing, so there is always a new challenge to solve in a new way, with a new, innovative solution!