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How Technical Skill Sets Have Transformed the Consultant Marketplace

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December 16, 2021
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5 minutes
Lynn's diverse perspectives on business stem from her extensive experience as a management consultant - her role as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother adds further depth to her insights.

It’s probably more accurate to say that the shortage of technical skill sets has transformed the marketplace.

Certainly, the digital consulting marketplace has exploded, and technical skills for consulting are in high demand.

Moreover, consulting market analysis shows that online freelance platforms are filling the gaps as new technologies change the face of the workplace and companies struggle to find the necessary in-house talent.

Trends in supply and demand for technical skills

Reports of technical skills shortages, including digital consulting skills, come from many sources.

  • In 2019, the World Economic Forum predicted a shortage of IT skills for 756,000 jobs in Europe in 2020.
  • US labor statistics showed 1.4 million tech vacancies in 2020 and only 400,000 computer science graduates for the year.
  • Israel is one of the top tech start-up countries in the world. Yet even they are experiencing a 15% developer shortage.
  • Mckinsey has reported that 87% of organizations surveyed are experiencing a talent shortage.

A 2019 report from the Joint Research Center of the EU is titled 'The Changing Nature of Work and Skills in the Digital Age'. Basically, it discusses the changes in the workplace brought about by technology and concludes that “Digital and non-cognitive skills are becoming increasingly necessary to seize emerging job opportunities.”

As a result, technology will drive new forms of work, and the future workforce should prepare for lifelong learning, upskilling, and reskilling. They will need a combination of higher education, at least a basic knowledge of ICT, and strong interpretative and social skills. The report also notes that at least one-third of the current European workforce doesn’t have these skills.

“Digital and non-cognitive skills are becoming increasingly necessary to seize emerging job opportunities.” - EU report on The Changing Nature of Work and Skills in the Digital Age.

Why is there such a demand for technical skills?

We just have to look around us to see massive changes in how businesses operate.

For example:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The third industrial revolution was about automating and digitizing parts or sections of operations. The fourth industrial revolution is about linking all these parts together.

The core of forth revolution are online communication networks between machines, ICT systems, products, and people across organizations.

Moreover, these networks utilize new technologies . For example:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT),
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Natural Language Programming (NLP)
  • Autonomous robots and drones
  • Simulation and augmented reality (AR)
  • The Cloud
  • Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
  • 5G, with its capability for massive numbers of simultaneous connections.

You can be excused for not even knowing what some of these things are, let alone how they might impact your business. Unfortunately, if your company has not picked up on some of this technology, you will rapidly be left behind.

However, the Skills in these technologies are growing in short supply. As a result, companies will have to recruit and upskill employees and may rely on digital consulting platforms for expertise.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Companies competing for customers based on tech functionality, and CRM across all industries has been transformed:

  • Now, companies use Machine Learning to develop buyer profiles, target leads, and give personalized advice based on past transactions.
  • Natural Language Processing understands verbal or written queries and picks up buyer behavior patterns from social media and other sources.
  • Chatbots give immediate answers to our online queries.

Moreover, speed has become critical.

McKinsey reports that the time to market for new apps is as little as 8 to 12 weeks rather than the traditional one to two years. Updates and new releases are required within days to optimize the customer experience.

eCommerce and Online Shopping

Those who had not bought anything online before the 2020 lockdowns probably learned to do so. Moreover, most people are not going back to their previous retail shopping patterns.

The shift has brought with it the need for very different skill sets.

In addition to setting up and maintaining shopping sites, companies will also need skills in

  • Writing, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Analytics
  • Data engineering
  • Copywriting
  • Graphic design and user experience
  • Social media and email marketing

Fintech Applications

Financial institutions are increasingly using new technologies. For example

  • Bots do routine administrative tasks, accounting, and even auditing
  • Algorithms analyze and identify risk
  • AI predicts markets and tests trading strategies
  • ML and AI process insurance and mortgage claims
  • Blockchain technology and smart contracts cut the costs of interbank and cross-border payments

Even this short list of examples shows how technologies are changing the workplace. Automation will take over some jobs, but many more will be created.

Now, the question is whether companies will have the in-house skills or turn to digital consulting platforms to fill the gaps.

Freelancers as the solution to the global tech talent gap

There may be a rather dismal view of shortages, but research shows that freelancers will be part of the solution.

The key is to reimagine the talent pool. It is flexible, not limited by geographic borders, and can be used independently or blended with full-time employees. Moreover, freelancers can provide digital and remote services or be placed in interim positions on-site.

Consulting market analysis shows that executives expect to make significant use of independent consultants, particularly in the IT and TELCO, general consulting, automotive, and industrial fields.

Moreover, the technical skills for consulting are available, sometimes from unexpected sources.

For example,

  • India is expected to have a surplus of 1.3 million technical experts to add to the global resource.
  • Tech and marketing are the largest skills categories among the estimated three million full-time freelancers in the EU.
  • Russia produces the highest number of engineering graduates per year. There are high numbers also in the USA, Iran, Japan, and Mexico.
  • Ukraine produces more engineering and IT graduates than most European countries and is building a reputation as a technology hub.

AS we know, covid lockdowns led to a global remote work experiment. Moreover, companies learned that working from home and using remote workers from all around the world was not only possible - it was effective. Even critical technical staff could be outsourced.

Online platforms provide technical skills for consulting

The same consulting market analysis found that 90% of executives believe talent platforms will be important for their company’s competitive advantage. Now, they are increasingly using platforms to source technical skills for consulting and interim placement on-site.

Many said that these digital platforms

  • Improved speed to market
  • Boosted productivity
  • Increased innovation

Moreover, the future of work will be based on demand, and platforms will provide the “elastic” teams that companies need.

Adding on, digital consulting is no longer just about introducing companies to digitized systems. It is about harnessing fourth industrial revolution technologies to keep companies competitive.

Jobs are vanishing or being replaced by automation, but new opportunities with new skill sets are opening up.

Now, the companies are reskilling their employees but also using digital consulting platforms and experimenting with new employment models.

If you feel you need a digital consulting port in a storm, perhaps the Consultport consulting platform can help. Please visit our website or contact us to find out more.

Further Reading: Skills Shortages are Slowing Down Digital Transformation and What is the Technology Adoption Curve, and How Should You Use It?