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Career Development

Meet Your Match: Breaking Into the Professional Services Industry in a Tech Role

General Assembly
March 29, 2023

Are you looking for a personal growth and career development path alongside giants, considered the best in their field? Do you appreciate autonomy as much as teamwork? Looking for a broad playing field where you can address large-scale challenges? You just might find such a place in the professional services industry—a top employer of tech talent in our increasingly digital world. 

All told, the industry’s worth $6,382.56 billion in 2023, and it’s expected to grow at a CAGR of 5% to top $7 billion by 2027. Thanks to burgeoning technology, professional services firms are able to offer their clients more value than ever before—and you can play the role of changemaker for countless other businesses in search of bold, bright solutions.

What Makes Professional Services a “Tech” Industry?

Professional services is a broad industry that encompasses:

  • Accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll
  • Advertising, content, digital marketing, and graphic design
  • Architecture, engineering, and interior design
  • Business, management, and human resources consulting
  • Event management
  • IT services and SaaS
  • Legal services
  • Logistics management
  • Project management
  • Staffing and training firms

The emphasis on human capital—on the time, knowledge, and expertise of experts in their field—is the thread that ties all these sub-sectors together. Talent in the professional services industry is on a mission to empower business leaders to succeed—and what better way to do that than with data-powered creativity and cost-cutting technology? To remain attentive to their clients’ needs, professional services providers must stay attuned to data-driven insights, efficiency-driving innovations, and greater market shifts. 

According to a recent survey of leaders in professional services, tech priorities include:

  • Client/customer relationship management (73%)
  • Analytics and business intelligence (60%)
  • Enterprise resource planning (45%)
  • IoT and machine learning (44%)
  • Connected field service (27%)
  • Apps (25%)
  • Portals (16%)

From back-end tools to customer-facing portals, digital products redefine how consultants conduct business, not to mention the value they’re able to offer. Quickly, the use of technology to analyze and serve clients better is becoming the new sector status quo. 

Here are some of the key tech trends defining the fast-approaching future of professional services: 

The Shift to Remote Work

Remote work is here to stay. The genie escaped the bottle during the global pandemic of 2020—and will never go back in—which is especially true for the professional services industry. For example, in the US and UK, roughly 12-19% of all management consulting jobs are currently remote. Businesses supplying personal assistants, account managers, PR specialists, and architects are all going remote worldwide, with countries like the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Ireland leading the way. Professional service firms with remote workers use digital meeting, messaging, productivity tools, and custom portals—and need talent that can help maintain these systems. 

Big Data

Data is king in today’s fast-paced world—and a professional services firm’s data capability needs are some of the most sophisticated, as they’re not just looking to help themselves, but their many diverse clients as well. The best companies are cross-functional, agile, and holistic in their ability to capture, clean, and use information to give their clients a competitive edge. As Dan Priest, a principal at PwC put it: “These days, we are all—to some degree—data scientists.” He explains that adaptability and “the ability to connect the dots with insight and creativity” is what differentiates the winners. Increasingly, professional services firms will need to combine internal and external data sets in their strategic planning. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Professional services organizations are moving from labor-intensive manual spreadsheets to digital systems that compile all customer or client touch points into one central source of truth. CRMs help professionals view and prioritize essential tasks, while providing at-a-glance insight into each client’s needs, preferences, and communication history. For 9 out of 10 vertical SaaS users, the benefits are clear: increased forecast accuracy and client retention (47%), increased employee retention (44%), as well as increased services revenue and average profit margin (43%). 

Automation

Business consultants are hired to efficiently solve challenges that prove too difficult to tackle internally. As client expectations for quality, speed, cost, and transparency rise, every tool professional services firms have to free up valuable brain power adds to the value they can provide. “The future is not about number-crunching transactions, but about judgment and wisdom,” explains Shamus Rae, CEO for Engine B, a data solutions provider for the professional services industry. Legal counsel, for instance, can use legal tech software to automate pre-execution contract review, ensure compliance with company standards, and guide negotiations; by eliminating the first pass review, attorneys free up countless hours to focus on company strategy and client relationship building instead, and the company can scale its business to new clientele without additional hires.

Other examples of automation can be seen in software geared toward project management, resource management, accounting, billable hours tracking, and data-driven report generation. In fact, the global market for professional services automation (PSA) will only continue to grow, forecast to reach $1679.72 million by 2026.

Why are Tech Roles Important in Professional Services? 

So how do you factor into this emerging story of professional services as a tech industry? If you’ve taken our quiz, you’ve identified yourself as a rare breed of creative and business-minded. You’re humble, you thrive on personal relationships, and you love a good puzzle. With a mind like that, any professional services firm would be lucky to have you. 

But perhaps you know this—because you already work in professional services and are considering a tech-related job opening. According to McKinsey, 70% of the workers in their data set pivoted into tech roles from professional services, healthcare, or another STEM field. General managers, operations managers, marketing managers, management analysts, PR specialists, market researchers, business operations specialists, HR specialists, office assistants, and customer service reps—these all make ideal starting points for career change into tech roles.

Imagine the Possibilities with a Professional Service Tech Role

Certain roles are highly desirable across industries, and professional services are no exception. Here are the top roles needed to keep the industry innovating into the future:

  • Software engineers: Where else can you flex hands-on technical skills as a programmer building business applications, but also dabble in strategy and product consulting for well-known brands? You can be the bringer of confidence for a company that’s looking for better ways to serve its clientele. You may help companies modernize their customer-facing portals, apps, and websites, or you may help startups get going from scratch. Either way, your ability to build digital infrastructure lends tangible value to complement your company’s consultation services. 
  • Data analysts: Nearly half (45%) of all professional services firms cite “effectively using data” as a prevailing challenge—so you’re very much needed! Secure, high-quality, easily accessible data is the lifeblood of any good consultant. You’ll cut through siloes to develop one single source of truth for your organization, scrap inaccurate data, make sense of inconsistencies, devise quicker ways to pull reports, and help create more functional teams empowered by the best possible information. 
  • Data scientists: Going one step further, a data scientist gets into predictive modeling and developing machine learning algorithms that help professional services organizations work smarter, not harder. Whether the company’s goals are to help its clients facilitate better decisions, mitigate risk, or improve product offerings, data science reports offer tangible value. Professional services firms also need data science to maximize project revenues, improve process efficiencies, and plot their own future growth trajectories.  
  • UX designers: Professional services firms use their websites to differentiate amid a crowded field. Your eagle eye and creative mind will conjure up the fabulous features, intuitive navigation menus, and tantalizing design elements that engage visitors and shore up new business. Beyond the company’s immediate needs, you’ll also likely work on a broad range of interesting design projects for your firm’s clientele, potentially landing high-profile, big-name gigs that you can feel proud to have contributed to, not to mention add to your growing portfolio. 

Surrounded by “the best of the best,” the synergy in the room is almost like a separate entity in professional services firms. Learning, mentoring, inspiring—consultants bring a whirlwind of big personalities, positivity, and inspiration to the table. Tech talent may find the combination of high-level thinking with practical hands-on work truly rewarding. The projects are as varied as the clientele, so there’s never a dull moment. As one General Assembly bootcamp alumni and PR specialist turned UX designer put it, “I get to flex different muscles all the time and continue to learn constantly.” 

Use GA as Your Tech Skill Stepping Stone Into Professional Services

Sometimes it seems there are more questions than answers when you consider changing careers. It’s natural to wonder how you can break into a new field mid-career when you have no industry experience. But the reality is that we’re in a deep tech talent shortage, and employers are starting to see value in partnering with non-traditional training bootcamps that can cultivate the skills and roles they need filled.

Even if you have no tech or professional services experience, General Assembly bootcamps can have you employment-ready in as little as three months. Kickstart your career change into an industry you adore by working alongside mentors on real-world projects and amassing in-demand skills our employer partners say they need. We offer all the support you need to transition into tech—just ask the 60,000+ graduates who have done it before you.

Wondering if a professional services career might be love at first byte? Take our Tech Industries “Meet Your Match” Quiz to find out!

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