Digital change is so widespread in our modern era that we might as well just call it “change”. Digital technologies have left an impact on every single industry, from marketing and journalism to factories with production lines, human resources, art and construction. It’s everywhere and you can’t escape it.
It’s a double-edged sword, and it’s up to you how you grasp it. Many companies are tapping into the rise of the gig economy to hire consultants with specialist skills, with the goal of transforming the way they do business and tapping into everything from artificial intelligence and machine learning to the internet of things, big data, quantum computing and more.
For digital consultants, business is booming. For the companies that rely on these consultants, tapping into the opportunities offered by digital change is a way to gain a competitive advantage. It’s a win/win situation in which new technologies are helping to power business and economic growth at a rate that we’ve never seen before. And so with that in mind, let’s dive on in and take a look at how digital change is driving the growth of new consultancy fields in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, China, India and beyond.
Digital change for legal tech, FinTech and more
According to a recent report from McKinsey, there are ten key developments for leaders and consultants to consider, ranging from digital natives calling the shots to digital superstars “rising far beyond the US big four and China’s big three”. And as well as impacting the way we work, digital transformation is also having an effect on the way that our society functions.
As for which industries will be impacted, there isn’t a single industry that will be immune to the huge swathes of change that are coming. On top of that, industry boundaries are beginning to shift, blur and even to disappear entirely. That said, there are certain industries that are more ready for disruption than others, and these include:
Blockchain is the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies, and yet while the financial industry has predominantly focused on blockchain, AI is set to be a disruptor too. Historically, financial decisions have been made by bank managers. We’re not far off a world in which those same decisions are made by algorithms.
2. Legal Technology
Blockchain isn’t just useful as a way of storing data in an incorruptible ledger or of powering the latest cryptocurrency. One of the big advantages of using blockchain is its ability to power smart contracts, which are effectively pre-set rules that mimic legal oversight but without the associated overheads. Smart contracts are replacing many of the functions that lawyers, accountants and taxation specialists provide. There’s still a real need for professionals, but they’ll become less relevant as time goes on and they’ll eventually be forced to specialise.
3. Tax Technology
According to one US Senate report, “Smart contracts might sound new, [but] the concept is rooted in basic contact law. Usually, the judicial system adjudicated contractual disputes and enforced terms, but it is common to have another arbitration method, especially for internal transactions. With smart contracts, a program enforces the contract built into the code.” When it comes to taxation, there’s no such thing as a foolproof system. Blockchain and smart contracts are by far the closest thing we have.
Phew, how long have you got? Wearables and the internet of things can capture unprecedented amounts of data. Blockchain can store interoperable health records while simultaneously giving power back to the patient. AI, machine learning and natural language processing can be used to process the data and to provide personalized healthcare like a medical version of Netflix. It might not make us live longer, but it will help us to improve the quality of life of millions of people across the globe.
5. Real Estate
Blockchain technology and smart contracts are pretty much built for realtors. We can create digital listings for every property on the market and use it to store maintenance and repair information so that every buyer knows exactly what to expect when they sign a contract and purchase a property. Technology removes the guesswork; but only for real estate companies that are able to support it. That’s where consultants come in.
The beautiful thing about digital technology is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Sure, digital consultants are in high demand now, but we’re only just at the tip of the iceberg. In the next 5-10 years, don’t be surprised if you see new digital consultancy fields emerging and people developing long-term collaborations that begin with training and implementation and which move forwards with ongoing support as new technologies continue to be developed.
And if you want to keep one eye on the future, be sure to check out our blog posts as we continue to write about the future of work, technology and consultancy. Nothing is certain and everything is in flux, and if you want to beat the competition then you’ll need to be like Socrates: you’ll need to know that you know nothing.
Digital change is here to stay, and if you think that it’s not going to impact your industry then we’ve got news for you: it’s more relevant than you are. On the plus side, once you accept the inevitability of digital change then you can start to prepare yourself, and that’s where this article comes in.
It’s also on the immediate horizon, and so there’s no time to be complacent. Let’s say that you’re a realtor. Right now, you can either ignore or embrace blockchain, and you could argue that if you focus on doing more of what you’re already doing, you’ll come out on top over the next eighteen months. But what happens when the industry has moved on and every realtor under the sun is using blockchain-powered systems to monitor properties – not just when they make a sale but for the entire lifecycle of the property?
Right now, we’re at a turning point in history, and history is written by the winners. If there’s anything that we’ve learned over the last fifty years of unprecedented technological advancement, it’s that technology comes out on top – but only when it helps us to achieve the things that we need to achieve.
These days, there are few subject matter specialists. Most of us have job roles that evolve on a daily basis, and we all rely on technology to help us to get those jobs done. The new role of digital consultants is to act as shepherds, guiding us towards the right solutions and providing us with the expertise we need to take advantage of them. And so the real question becomes: who’s your shepherd?