Don’t put consultants on the endangered species list

In all of the excitement about Software as a Service (SaaS) and the massive shift toward applications like salesforce.com and others, it would be easy to think outside consulting as we know it will become much less important.

This couldn’t be further from the truth: We’re in an age where we don’t build apps ourselves and IT doesn’t have the power to mandate use (or block competing software). Strategy and adoption have never been more important or more elusive.

Smart consulting is the way to get through the danger.

Looking back

Consulting has changed over the past thirty years, for sure. The 80’s were all about custom application development (using languages like C and COBOL), the 90’s were all about enterprise application integration (EAI), and the 00’s were about the rise of service oriented architecture, SaaS and platform applications like SAP.

My prediction is that the 10’s will shift consulting to support of mobile and social strategies that will allow big enterprises to pivot toward new markets like only small ones do now. There will need to be a significant infrastructure refresh to allow this to happen but competitive pressure and need to cut cost while increasing productivity will force it to happen.

You might think outsourcing is the answer, but I’m not convinced outsourcing is the play that it was even a few years ago.

Too much new to swallow

Why consulting? Because most large companies don’t have experience in nimble architectures and opportunistic change. They were built around a powerful IT department that played the critical role of enforcing standards, creating and testing applications, and backing up information. All three of those functions are under pressure from external vendors and IT’s role is diminishing, in part because of this.

Without strong IT and its technology-focused role, organizations are more likely to drift from idea to idea without a coherent strategy to pull their technology investments together. They’re more likely to allow a Yammer or other user-led software to become embedded without thinking through the implications. It gets messy, fast.

There’s simply too much new technology and new ways to go to market (mobile alone has enormous implications) to be swallowed without sage advice from experienced consultants who’ve done it before and earn their livelihood from bringing value at the cutting edge of change. The Internet ushered interactive consulting and gave us a slate of new consulting companies (most of which didn’t survive the early 2000’s dot com bust). In the same way, the marketplace is ripe for another move, this time toward ‘digital transformation’ consulting, with mobile, social and app technology paving the way.

Consultants are nowhere near the endangered species list.

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Categories: Tech Strategy

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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One Comment on “Don’t put consultants on the endangered species list”

  1. November 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Great article, Chris. I absolutely concur with you! Ethical, knowledgeable, service and client oriented, well-versed consultants are in greater need now more than ever. Leslie Kae Leazer, Esq.

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