Digital and IT

5 Capabilities You Need As a Digital Consultant in 2023

  • Sourav Raina
  • January 30, 2023

With the development of new technologies like AI and Machine Learning, the pressure to acquire digital skills has never been so high. 

Despite this, a UK study by Tech Partnership found that up to 59% of employers are concerned about the digital skills gap in their workforce. 

With the digital economy set to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, many businesses are now looking to take advantage of the opportunities driven by this innovation. For consultants, now is the perfect time to take the plunge into tech.  

If you’re a consultant that wants to get started on projects in the digital landscape, here are the five capabilities you should have under your belt. 

1) Secure technical skills and knowledge about industry trends

Every year, hundreds of new cutting-edge innovations enter the market. As a consultant, you’ll be expected to have a robust understanding of the latest technologies and practices to advise your clients. 

If you want to stand out to your clients, investing time in developing technical skills and keeping up with the latest trends is essential. 

To cultivate these skills, you should dedicate at least an hour per week to building your industry knowledge. 

Podcasts are another easy way to access information about the latest trends from industry experts. If you’re unsure where to start, you can begin by listening to popular technology podcasts like Ted Tech, a16z, or Innovating with Scott Amyx

If you’re not into podcasts, reading white papers and reports is another great way to brush up on your knowledge. 

2) Embrace uncertain situations

Digital is one of the most exciting and dynamic industries around. If you want to experience all the benefits it has to offer, you should brace yourself for a rapidly changing environment.

Humans are hardwired to crave certainty by nature because of the external threats our ancestors faced. While this trait was useful for cavemen that wanted to avoid becoming a sabertooth cat’s next meal, modern humans are exposed to significantly less hazardous environments. 

Sure, fighting your internal drivers is easier said than done. However, it is also the key to unlocking all the opportunities the digital industry has to offer. 

If you’re still trying to embrace uncertainty, begin by accepting that situations will change. Then, when you find yourself in a situation where you have a familiar pang of anxiety, stop to examine your feelings. 

By taking a moment to pause, you will give yourself the opportunity to reflect on what is driving your emotions. You can repurpose these feelings as a force for good by using it to fuel creative solutions to solve problems that arise. 

Also, rest assured that through exposure to unknown environments, you will build your tolerance to foreign situations. 

3) Acquire a passion for problem-solving

As a consultant, problem-solving is your bread and butter. However, when you work in such a complex and ever-changing industry this skill becomes even more important. 

To keep up, you should try developing a passion for this skill so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Having a few trusty problem-solving tools in your back pocket will help make this process easier. 

Next time you’re faced with a problem that makes your head spin, try using an “Ishikawa” or “fishbone” diagram. These can help you map different causal chains and structure your problem-solving process. 

In doing so, you will be able to solve issues more quickly and efficiently, allowing you to build an appetite for decoding complex problems and keep your stakeholders happy.

4) Show empathy for clients

Empathy is a core skill of successful independent consultants. 

While a good consultant knows what is being asked of them, a great consultant knows the importance of understanding why a project has been requested.

One of the best ways of showing that you understand what your client needs is by actively listening. Next time you’re meeting for a project for the first time, remember to communicate your attention through nonverbal cues. 

We can forget that maintaining eye contact and nodding when someone is speaking will show that we care about the other person’s needs and want to help. 

By actively listening, you will get your project off on the right foot and save valuable time by getting to the heart of the problem fast. This is especially important when you are working in an ever-changing environment where speed is of the essence.  

In doing so, you will also better understand the challenges companies may be facing when implementing new technologies, such as a disruption to existing business operations, having to invest in training and infrastructure, as well as potential data breaches and security risks. 

So, if you want to keep your stakeholders happy and get your project started on the right track, keep empathy at the forefront of your mind. 

5) Demonstrate agility

As technology continues to advance at warp speed, it’s your responsibility as a consultant to keep up with the latest advancements in the field and effectively guide your clients. Agility is therefore a core skill that you should work on. 

By focusing on agility you will be better placed to quickly adapt to changes in the industry, giving your clients the opportunity to capitalize on new opportunities that may give them a competitive advantage in the market. 

To boost your agility, consider in agile work management methods like Kanban or Scrum. These methods have become particularly popular in the digital industry, allowing teams to deliver products and feature faster and with higher quality.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve in the digital industry, you will need a combination of soft and technical skills. By dedicating time to building your expertise in this field, you can set yourself apart as a valuable asset to your clients and excel in your role as a consultant. 

Most importantly, remember to stay curious and open to learning new things, and don’t be afraid to embrace change. 

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