5 Ways Tech Consulting differs from Strategy Consulting

Last week, we explored how Tech consulting experience can hurt you when it comes to applying for more strategy-focused roles, and how to mitigate this during the recruiting process. While tech consulting is incredibly meaningful work (not to mention the fastest growing sector inside of consulting), the negative stereotype of the field remains inside of strategy practices. But how do tech and strategy consulting really differ? Are strategy firms wrong in their general assessment of their tech counterparts?

First, something important to keep in mind: there is a big difference between Tech consulting and IT consulting. There are some places we’ve seen the terms used interchangeably, and this is a mistake. IT consulting is integration consulting. You build and evaluate systems, and the work is extremely technical in nature. Tech consulting is operational in nature. You map a current process, figure out what’s wrong with it, break it, and determine what a new process should be.

With that definition out of the way, here are 5 Ways Tech consulting differs from Strategy consulting.

  1. There is incredibly high demand in the tech consulting space. You will never be unemployed, and seldom on the beach (follow the link for more insider consulting lingo). Even better? There is no end in sight for this growth. Systems are becoming more complex and integration possibilities becoming broader. Further, there is an incredibly broad geographic disbursement in the field. You’ll find tech consulting firms everywhere – from Sacramento, CA to Harrisburg, PA, in cities where you wouldn’t typically find other consulting firms setting up shop. 
  2. Tech consulting offers client fluidity – many clients have multiple tech firms across different verticals, BUs, and divisions. This is attractive from a branding perspective – it gives you more of a chance to get on a project with a big name client.
  3. One of the challenges of tech consulting is the fact that the work is very repetitive. While the work you do is to solve different kinds of business problems, you’ll often find yourself following similar processes to arrive at your conclusions. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your interests and personality. Pro: You get to see a lot of business problems (supply chain project, customer facing ordering website, backend employee time-tracking system of a company). Con: You use the same process to solve problems, and you’ll be doing kind of the same work (deep dive, in the weeds).
  4. Work and lifestyle: By its very nature, this is long project length work, and not high-level. In addition, in the tech consulting world, you have binary travel outcomes – either you travel 5 days/week or not at all. You will develop some expertise, which is both good and bad. The truth is that where you peg yourself early on affects the trajectory of your career. It is very hard to rebrand yourself if at some point you decide you don’t want to continue in tech consulting. The same kind of training and exit opportunities as MBB are not available.
  5. Pay is another distinguishing factor for many of you. In tech consulting, your starting salary will be 15-20% less at the start than at a strategy firm. However, this really deviates over a career, as tech consulting salaries only grow at 5-10%/year, as opposed to 15-20% in strategy.

Our aim is by no means to put down tech consulting (we help hundreds of clients/year land offers in the space!). However, there are very real differences in the work, and if you know you’d like to be in the strategy world one day, these are important distinctions to know now. Looking for individualized career path guidance? Want to transition from tech consulting to strategy? Schedule a Power Half Hour with a MBB coach today!