IT Consultant, what a great title and vastly over used when it comes to the world of IT. Most IT Consultants are simply salesmen, here today and gone in 6 months if they haven’t hit their sales targets. The definition of an IT Consultant says – Is a person that focuses on advising businesses on how best to use information technology to meet their business objectives. In addition to providing advice, IT consultancies often estimate, manage, implement, deploy, and administer IT systems on businesses’ behalf. This is according the font of all knowledge – Wikipedia.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But what does it actually mean and how do you know if anyone is any good? This is a real problem in IT.  Our industry has almost becomes as disreputable as selling used cars – if someone can drive and is enthusiastic about cars they can sell them! Not true.

In IT, if you can operate a laptop or PC, know a bit about networking and data you can call yourself an IT Consultant. Again, not true.

The IT industry is going through probably the most exciting and challenging time for years, products are changing more often than Sofa promotions at your local furniture store. Cloud computing, Hybrid approach, IOPs, Flash, Hyper-convergence, Fabric and VoIP are all terms in IT Architecture.  But what do they all mean, and more importantly, how do they fit into your IT Architectural environment. Inter-operability means things will work together but Converged means they will work within and that is the panacea of all CTO’s/IT Directors/Managers and IT professionals.

To get a true IT Consultant, who adds value, they must first and foremost have an understanding of IT Architecture and how things work in harmony. Yes, we can all get things to work together with a bit of “fettling”, but are you getting true value?  If you have a converged solution you actually save money and get a better TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).  You get this from removing complexity, making it easier to manage, cheaper to support and will save you on power and cooling costs.

IT Management is about strategy and aligning business goals to technology and that is where the problem starts. There is so much choice, some IT Vendors are telling you that they are the best thing since sliced bread. Price becomes the key driver in IT sales and this is fundamentally wrong. We know Vendors that will give you kit for next to nothing but you will be paying through the nose in years 2 – 5 in the form of support or service costs. What should be important to you, is the right solution for the right price implemented by people you trust. Too many so called IT Consultants are only interested in the sale, that is what they get paid on and what they are focussed on, nothing else matters.

So what do you do?

This is difficult, because the only way to find out who is good and who knows their stuff is to speak to them. Ask some difficult questions and see how they are answered and you will know if you are talking to the Consultant or Salesman.

I was at a training course this week and the instructor asked a question “Who is your ideal customer?” after we got over the obvious funny ones, plenty of money, no competition, open to blackmail etc. This got me thinking and to be honest the ideal customer is: Someone who accepts they don’t know everything, but tells you about what they are doing and what they are trying to achieve. Then listens to what we have to say and afterwards is in position to make an informed and educated decision.

At Unleashed we only employ consultants and are happy to engage with you, give us a try and see what you think, I am sure you will be very surprised. In a good way!

To answer my question – IT Consultant – fact or myth. Mostly myth but there are some good ones out there and if you find one. Hang on to him/her there are not many of us left.

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