By Murali Siddavatam (TipoTapp Founder and CTO)
In the tech world, change is expected. But the rapid and unprecedented digital transformation that we’re currently experiencing is having huge ramifications for IT consultants.
These professionals, responsible for discovering, facilitating, and managing cutting-edge tech and top talent for businesses, forged their living through an arcane and essential trade. But their core business model is being irrevocably disrupted by a few powerful forces. Namely:
the onslaught of digital transformation;
the steady consumerisation of IT technology;
The globalisation of the workforce;
and the rising ubiquity of IT proficiency.
These trends have conspired to decode and democratise the mysterious skill sets that business owners traditionally sought from IT consultants – and in some cases, made them altogether obsolete.
IT consultants are going to need to rethink their entire business model if they want to stick around.
The Consultant’s New Competition
IT consultants aren’t competing with other firms anymore, they’re competing with the global workforce, user-friendly tools, and simplified, affordable, as-a-service offerings.
IT services are now attainable through a vast and immediately available array of on-demand, ad-hoc options that encompass all of the necessary database, CRM, supply chain, personnel management, cloud services, and operational components needed to comprise a complete IT infrastructure.
Low-code solutions are a microcosm of this transition. They allow the development of custom business applications without any coding expertise and they’re a booming industry, projected to exceed $15 billion by 2020.
Deloitte has a self-serve digital app platform, Flexera hosts a repository of such tools, and my service, TipoTapp is in the same vein: designed to empower business owners with simplified, customisable, self-serve IT solutions.
And that’s just a small taste. So many of the services traditionally facilitated by IT consulting firms are being similarly displaced by technology, tools, or algorithms:
Artificial intelligence enables more data-driven decision-making;
Automated infrastructures can spin up and optimise themselves;
Authentication, backup, and security protocols can be licensed and activated immediately for almost any purpose and within almost any budget.
And if there isn’t a pre-built tool that fits your needs, there’s a constantly replenishing, fiercely competitive worldwide network of skilled individuals who can custom engineer the solution.
Access is Everything
Self-serve recruitment tools and advanced collaboration platforms now allow business owners to tap directly into the international talent vein. So unsurprisingly, the proportion of remote workers is climbing.
When the expertise to tackle any initiative is a few clicks away, there’s little incentive to filter your search through an agency at a markup. This direct access to the worldwide workforce further mitigates the need for IT consultants.
But this path can bear some risks. Specialists still need to be verified and supervised by someone who understands both the business and the technology, and not all business owners fit that description.
One firm, Eden McCallum, aims to be the bridge in between independent freelancers and growing businesses. They claim to unite clients directly with fully vetted IT strategists without the bloat, bias, or antiquated tactics that companies have come to expect from consulting firms. Maybe this leaner model will gain a foothold in this shifting market.
Can Consultants Catch Up?
If their purpose is to equip business owners with the latest and most effective IT techniques, talent, and technology, IT consulting firms need to pivot. As we can see, those things are readily available without a middleman.
To stay relevant, IT consultants must become more lean, nimble, transparent, and technology-driven. Like the SaaS services that drive today’s companies, consultants must be able to spin up quickly, target a specific application, charge only for services rendered, and proactively update their solutions.
But most importantly, they must apply their expertise to help business owners to access, utilise, and optimise IT services themselves. They will add value by integrating a layer of education, control, and empowerment for the client.
They must also help business owners understand both the immediate value and larger context of adopting any new piece of technology. Because even though the information and services that business owners need may be more available and less esoteric, the path to translating them into long-term business benefits can be surprisingly complex. The best way to achieve business goals may change at any moment and a business owner working in the trenches may let some opportunities fly overhead. After all, this industry is always changing. That’s the only constant we can count on.