It all comes down to breadth of knowledge. Technology in the workplace is no longer monolithic, which means that consultants cannot simply specialise in one area otherwise their clients could be missing out on the full range of what modern ICT has to offer.
Even as recently as a decade ago, it might have been possible for a consultant to concentrate on a single vendor, or a single platform, but a decade is a long time in technology and progress waits for nobody.
Technology in the workplace is not only all-pervasive, it is also extremely fragmented and the key, for consultants and for companies, is to be able to bring all the disparate strands together so that they pull in a single, unified direction.
‘‘Technology can be a real mixed bag,’’ said Mark Bate, Chief Technical Officer of Ergo, an Irish-owned ICT services and consulting firm. ‘‘A company could have legacy systems, AS 400 technologies and different core data and backend systems, not to mention the fact that people are bringing their own devices, such as their phones, tablets and iPads, into the workplace.’’
According to Bate, there is very little large scale greenfield application development within Irish industry a legacy of the downturn.
Instead, they are looking to use what they have in terms of their legacy systems and their newer technologies, and looking to apply an integration layer and a new presentation layer on top so that they have a fully- integrated system with a modern and homogenous user interface.
‘‘This requires someone who not only understands older technologies, but also modern systems,’’ he said. ‘‘So the consultant has to be something of a Jack-of-all-trades,’’ he said.
‘‘Ten years ago, the focus was all on process engineering and workflow. Now it is about taking the whole gamut of technologies that people are using, and putting a fresh perspective on them.’’
Of course, all of this is taking place against the backdrop of a hugely-constrained capital expenditure environment, which is why an in-depth understanding of the cloud is important, so that any testing or operating in a virtualised environment becomes an op-ex rather than a cap-ex cost.
‘‘We are seeing a new wave of interest in the Microsoft Cloud platform because of its new capabilities, especially from companies which have already made a significant investment into the Microsoft stack,’’ said Bate.
‘‘Companies with a limited budget see the Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering from Microsoft as a way of freeing themselves from the constraints of their cap-ex spend.’’
These are the types of business considerations that a modern IT consultant needs to bring to the discussion. It is no longer possible merely to have technical expertise rather, a modern consultant needs to know how to apply the technologies in a real business setting, and how to speak the language of the techies, the operations managers and the board.
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