Digital and tech consulting is a rapidly growing segment of the consulting profession. New boutique consultancies spring up constantly, whilst the big players in the MBB and Big Four firms are increasingly offering specialist digital services. Consultancies thus have to recruit specialist digital consultants as well as various technical experts to be able to deliver the projects now demanded by the changing nature of business.
As you would expect, there are significant overlaps in the hiring requirements for digital consultants, technical experts working for consulting firms and those working directly in the tech industry itself. In recent times, this overlap has increasingly extended itself into the recruitment pipeline. In particular, tech firms are now often requiring applicants to undergo consulting-style case interviews .
In this article, we’ll first take a look at various aspects of digital consulting roles, before examining the distinct flavour of case interview which candidates for these jobs can expect to have to tackle. These case interviews will also often have a lot in common with the case interviews used by tech companies to filter their own applicants. As such, tech applicants will also find a lot of useful information here . (For a discussion comparing case interviews in different sectors, check out our article on case interviews in other industries)
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Digital Consulting – What is it?
Digital consulting operations are called upon to fulfil a whole host of functions. These might be conducted as stand-alone projects or in conjunction with generalist consultants as part of broader engagements. Let’s take a look at the kinds of work consulting firms undertake in this area:
- Projects will often draw on advanced methods to provide better answers to typical business issues. Thus, advanced analytics can be used to inform companies in tasks such as churn reduction, custom pricing, risk control and credit decisions.
- Advanced analytics can also be deployed in structuring and managing the data models used by companies.
- Consultancies are often engaged with IT strategy and other classic CTO issues.
- Consultants will also often advise on IT issues such as cloud storage, cyber security and infrastructure development.
- Consultants are often involved in the transformation of internal and/or customer facing processes.
- Often, engagements will be centred on establishing how to sell new or existing products via digital channels.
New Digital Business
- General consultants often advise companies on how to respond to market disruptions. Likewise, where the problem and/or potential solution involves a substantial digital element, digital consultants will be involved.
- Consultants can also advise on how best to bring innovative new products to market.
- Optimising digital marketing is another common subject for engagements.
- Consultants will often be required to apply a design approach to management problems, such as going to market or new product releases. Similarly, they might be involved directly designing elements of new products or services.
- Consultants might be engaged to improve aspects of customer experience.
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Requirements of Roles
As alluded to above, the demands upon digital consulting as a field have required firms to hire individuals to fill various roles. As an applicant, depending upon your background, you might be unsure where you will best fit. For instance, if you have a strong grounding in computer science, you might be capable of acting as a digital consultant or in one or more technical roles. As such, we should run though the various jobs available within the digital consulting world, with a concise
Consultant in Digital/Technology
Whilst digital consultants work on projects requiring a degree of specialist background knowledge, it is crucial to remember that they are still first and foremost consultants. By this, we mean that, rather than technical specialists, it is better to think about digital consultants as effectively generalist consultants that are only deployed on a specific subset of engagements. Accordingly, these individuals will need the full gamut of consulting soft skills and should be aware that assessment of those skills via fit interviews etc will be taken very seriously.
Of course, though, to be able to do their jobs, digital consultants will require a solid understanding of the technology they are working with. Ideally, they should have a background in computer science or a closely allied area.
Data scientists are tasked with supporting the consultancy’s team and client staff with data analysis and insights. They require experience in data modelling and algorithms, including in programming languages such as R, python etc.
Agile Coach/Scrum Master
These individuals will support clients in setting up and managing Agile teams to deliver projects. They will require experience in Agile methodology in different settings and covering different roles.
Experience designers will both directly help clients to develop new digital products/experiences and also in helping clients in building and managing their own design teams. Such designers will need experience with design thinking methodology and Agile.
IT architects are employed to support clients in architectural decision-making in the course of delivering new digital products or services. They will require good experience in IT architecture for enterprise.
Help clients deliver software products/services. This role will require a string background in computer science, with experience of everything from cloud infrastructure, databases, application building technologies to Agile. Experience will also be expected in applying these methods in business settings.
Example Digital Cases Studies
Let’s take a look at some representative examples of the kind of cases which you are likely to come across in Tech/Digital interviews. As well as setting out the case question, we’ll run through some quick notes on how to move towards a solution via our Problem Driven Structure method for case cracking (for more information on this method, see our articles introducing case interviews and Problem Driven Structures here).
These are common themes for the cases given to digital consultant interview candidates . However, those applying for other roles in the digital consulting arena or indeed roles within the tech industry might receive very similar cases (perhaps with arbitrarily altered premises).
Digital Transformation Prioritisation
A major bank wants to undergo a large-scale digital transformation of its products in order to be more appealing to customers (hopefully generating more revenue) whilst also reducing its cost base. You must design a roadmap for this transformation. In particular, the bank wants to know which products to tackle first and how to generate maximum impact. They also want to know how they should go about implementing their new products/services/process.
Identify and Structure the Problem
First, you need form a clear understanding of the problem and start to break it down logically. In particular, you should:
- Ask for information about the particular products/services/processes involved. For example you might ask about profitability, costs to maintain and R&D costs.
- Ask for information about underlying systems. For instance, you might enquire abut the relevant technology, level of complexity and dependencies.
- Consider customer satisfaction for the different processes/products/services.
- Consider strategic relevance
Lead the Analysis and Provide Recommendations
Having analysed the problem, you must then devise and present a solution.
Thus, you should:
Prioritise based on cost efficiency and/or effort required for implementation
- Identify “quick wins”
- Once the correct product/service/process has been identified, you should suggest a structured re-design process including:
- Market research to understand the customer base
- Idea generation
- MVP development
- Early user feedback
- Consider whether is better to add to existing products or replace entirely
- Consider whether concerns about migrating users from older products are relevant
Software Quality Improvement
The R&D department of a major bank has discovered that more than 30% of the software development division’s time is being spent fixing bugs in in-house-developed software. They wish to decrease this time so as to increase overall productivity. What do you recommend?
Identify the Structure the Problem
- Enquire as to any salient differences between products. For instance, are there differences in profitability or in the extent to which they are affected by bugs.
- Find out about the codebase. Enquire as to how many lines of code are involved, the relevant technology being used and any dependencies.
- Generally, secure data broken down by product, module etc.
Lead the Analysis and Provide Recommendations
- You might move towards solutions including the following:
- Targeted testing: unit and/or automated user acceptance
- Code review: automated with tools or by peers
- Set team coding standards to be enforced via review
- Targeted refactoring (it would be impossible to refactor everything, as the cost would be too high)
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How to get that job!
If you want to get any job in digital consulting - and an increasing number of jobs in the tech industry itself - you are going to need to reliably impress in case interview.
Case interviews in general are formidable things, but those for more specialist positions can really spook candidates . How different are they? Will the material for generalist consulting interviews be sufficient to prep or do they need to find specialist material (if it even exists)?
We discuss these issues in some depth in our article on case interviews in other industries. The relevant takeaway, though, is that case cracking relies on the same fundamental skillset, regardless of the particular context of the case . Thus, whichever industry you are applying for, you should be spending the overwhelming majority of your prep becoming a case cracking generalist , only honing in on specific common tropes from your chosen sector at the very last, running up to your interview.
With all this being the case, good quality prep material designed for general consulting interviews is perfect to form the core of your preparation .
Now, this might sound promising enough, but the problem now is generally finding good quality prep material . The quickest google will soon show that there is a whole industry based on selling outmoded, highly-dysfunctional “framework” approaches to case solving. However, despite the fabulous promises that are made of them, these systems let down thousands of diligent candidates every year, who pour in many hours into learning the relevant sources cover-to-cover, only to come up stumped at interview.
The fundamental issue is that the approach embodied in frameworks is anathema to the way any self-respecting consultant or high-level professional would ever actually approach their work . No wonder frameworks then fail to solve case studies based on real business problems.
At MyConsultingCoach, we have made it our mission to correct this problem by developing prep material designed to teach you how to solve cases in the same way a real consultant would . The core of this is our four-step Problem Driven Structure method of case cracking, which is effectively a distillation of the seven-step approach used by McKinsey on real engagements . This method then sits at the centre of a whole gamut of other resources to give you everything you need to prep for any case interview. Let’s take a closer look:
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Our Case Method
Our MCC Academy case interview course was developed with a single goal in mind – to help candidates succeed by teaching them to think, act and communicate like a world-class strategy consultant . After completing our course, you’ll be equipped not only to ace the interview process, but also to hit the ground running on day one of the job.
The idea of getting hired by acquiring the fundamental skills associated with the job might seem obvious. However, our approach is actually in stark contrast to the old-fashioned case interview systems mentioned above.
These other methods simply have you memorise perhaps a dozen “standard” frameworks. This short list of generic recipes is supposed to allow you to answer any case question the interviewer comes up with. This is in spite of the fact that that cases will be based on real engagements, where major firms were forced to call in consultants as they couldn’t solve the problem in-house… In short, frameworks are unlikely to give you correct answers.
Our unique Problem Driven Approach allows you to tackle each case on its own merits, developing a bespoke solution to capture all of the problem’s unique complexities – just like a real consultant! We equip you with everything you need to know, starting from the ground up. Specifically, we can support you in:
- Understanding business fundamentals: Get your mini-MBA with our Marketing, Strategy and Economics, Accounting & Finance modules
- Learning how to crack cases: Identify the problem, build a bespoke problem driven structure, lead the analysis and how to provide recommendations.
- Accelerating your approach with our building blocks: Master profitability analysis, competitive dynamics, pricing discussions, among others to let you deal with recurring themes in cases without restricting you to simplistic frameworks.
Our coaching sessions
Coaching from a real MBB consultant can help even the best candidates pinpoint their weak points and turn them into strengths. As well as helping you master case studies, a coach will give you a new self-awareness of your profile and how best to position yourself for an MBB offer. Just as importantly, they will give you the confidence to know for sure you can succeed against such a formidable challenge!