With the increased reliance on technology during the pandemic, strategic IT consulting services became one of the most requested activities within consulting. IT consulting services have a proven value in various business types, from startups and small businesses to big corporations. However, IT consulting is a broad and complex concept that is often misunderstood. This article will unveil the IT consulting service, its characteristics, and how to get the most out of it.
With the evolution of business and technological advancement, information technology (IT) in business went from being an avoidable luxury to a fundamental necessity. Information technology today refers to all kinds of software and hardware used to manage a range of business processes.
The global technology industry is projected to reach $5 trillion in 2021 according to IDC, with new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) soon reaching $1 trillion in annual revenue. In the IT industry, technological disruption and innovation are closely knit together, with efficiency as a prime directive. Technological disruption in business results in improved data management, faster operations, wider information distribution, and smarter apps. Innovation increases value, boosts productivity, and enhances the quality of products and services.
IDC highlights the following positive factors that will drive tech growth in 2021:
IT solutions vary between industries. However, hardly any business today will survive without accounting systems, custom CRM solutions, information management systems, and planning tools along with a plethora of other operational efficiency tools. With such an abundance of IT services and technologies, IT management and consulting catapults into overdrive.
The necessity of businesses to keep pace with technological advancements has triggered a large-scale digitalization movement. On the digitalization path, information technology consultants help companies define strategic roadmaps, quantify the value new technology brings, suggest relevant technology stacks, develop the required solutions, and supervise each step of the journey. Because of this, the role of an IT consultant appears to be one of the most practical and beneficial within the software outsourcing paradigm.
In light of the global digital transformation trends, here are several projections by Statista for the IT consulting industry:
Digital transformation impacts both internal business operations and processes, as well as the omnichannel customer experience. The role of an IT consultant here is to help clients integrate all the IT components required for a digital enterprise. It can include mobile, customer relationship management (CRM) applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and analytical solutions in addition to other solutions. On the other hand, strategic IT consulting services aim to promote growth and increase customer satisfaction. This means that digitalization underlies sales and marketing, customer acquisition and onboarding, public relations and customer services, and so on.
Facing the pandemic, decision-makers have become aware of the strategic value of digital transformation. According to Spiceworks Ziff Davis study, 76% of businesses plan on long-term IT changes due to COVID-19, and 44% plan to accelerate digital transformation plans. It suggests that we won’t face a decrease in IT consulting and digitalization spending, despite the global crisis. Businesses will continue tightening their security, streamlining remote working, and improving overall IT operations.
→ Explore How business benefits from digital transformation in current situation
The question of “what is a consulting service?” can be answered with a few words — they help solve IT problems. But to get the entire picture of this concept, let’s look at a few definitions.
According to the most popular definitions combined: “IT consulting services are advisory services that help clients evaluate technology strategies and align those with their business or process strategies.”
Techopedia defines the role of an IT consultant as: “ to provide advice, guidelines and a roadmap for sourcing, utilizing and managing IT assets and resources. An IT consultant provides organizations with best practices for using IT solutions and services for their business objectives and in solving their problems.”
Most IT consulting service companies will specialize in a specific field of IT. These can include different services, so let’s take a look at some of them.
The key stage of IT consulting business involves the consultants working to discover possible options for strategic surveillance. The client may already have a basic plan, but the strategic IT consulting services will help turn it into a working strategy. By addressing the entire IT transformation scope, an IT services and consulting company will manage operations audit, a business model shift, or possibly even changes in the area of human resources or regulatory compliance. This way, IT сonsulting and support is the right service at every point of the company’s lifecycle.
→ How to take your business strategy into high gear with IT consulting
IT consultants predominantly listen to business owners, management or responsible stakeholders, be it a large enterprise or a small business. The IT consultancy starts with careful learning of pains, thorough examination of business goals and the challenges being faced. IT consulting companies learn the current status of the corporation’s IT, its strong and weak sides, and compare it to industry best practices. Depending on their findings, the consultants will know which direction to draft a roadmap.
IT consultants are also called to action to evaluate, analyze and consider security vulnerabilities, key security controls in applications, regulations compliance. If a consulting company identifies security gaps, they will recommend how to reduce exposure, advice on tooling and security control implementation options, etc. When a company only plans the design architecture of their solutions, IT consulting services can help avoid future cyber threats and potential risks to the brand.
IT consulting firms help organizations identify, explore and monitor enterprise-related risks usually associated with corporate-wide processes, human resources allocation, company’s conformance to established compliance standards and the use of technology. The main enterprise areas where governance, risk and compliance (GRC) services are applied are anti-fraud consulting, financial reporting, taxation and human capital.
IT consulting solutions often include an infrastructure design, database migration assessment, enterprise platform migration guide and cloud migration roadmap. In the scope of data migration services, an IT services and consulting company provides structured and efficient approach in order to help clients plan and further perform a successful migration with every possible issue like potential latency, scalability, integration and security in mind.
→ Here is more about Avenga data services
Even though it is widely known that the bigger the business, the higher the risks; small business is also prone to all sorts of risks. The role of IT consultants is to identify, demonstrate and apply best practices of business adaptability and risk mitigation. After examining a company’s resilience, IT consultants should suggest ways to ensure the continuous availability of company-wide IT systems, applications and data, as well as establish disaster recovery plans featuring robust data backup and recovery solutions.
After careful examination of core business needs and evaluating different solutions, the IT consulting team will present a plan for reaching the identified goals. Relying on their experience, they help determine the best technology strategies for the business. This way, a company can rely on custom application development practices instead of second-guessing an outcome and possible risks.
The best information technology consulting companies leverage a team of experts holding diverse expertise at well-justified cost. Moreover, they’re armed with a myriad of tools proven to provide fresh solutions for a particular business niche. Other factors to consider while choosing an IT consulting and strategy partner are discussed further below.
IT service consulting business should help organizations take advantage of technology developments to increase revenue and provide better customer experiences. IT consultants should be versed in the most popular subsectors of the IT consulting industry, which are:
Adaptability is at the heart of the IT consulting industry. The global IT consulting market was valued at $157.26 billion in 2017 and was expected to grow at a CAGR exceeding 11.8%, ultimately reaching $382.65 billion in 2025.
However, global challenges pushed IT consultancy like everyone else, into a turbulent transformation state. IT assignments have become shorter, competition – fiercer and prices – higher. The IT consulting industry’s revenue declined 4.0% in 2020, IBISWorld’s analysts declared, reflecting a reduction in private investment in computers and software amid a broad economic contraction.
The rational decision is to look for IT consultants who are ready to adapt, transform and adjust. IT consulting companies must prove that they’re not only significant players in the digital transformation of their clients, but that they are able to transform themselves.
IBISWorld research states that nearly half a million businesses declare information technology consulting among their business services in the US alone. However, it’s not only technology titans like IBM Global Services, Forrester or Gartner that have proven their status as acclaimed technology consultants; smaller IT consulting companies globally have also been gaining traction in efficiency and competence.
It goes without question that IT consulting services are about offering a range of flexible solutions to meet individual business needs. It’s preferable that an IT consulting company becomes a one-stop-shop, ready to assist businesses at any stage of their lifecycle. The most desirable contractor will have a profound expertise and will be prepared to help implement change and deliver products faster and more cost-effectively.
There have always been plenty of risks associated with the digital transformation or launching of new products, never more so when grappling with global crises. Today, businesses look for justified investment and opt for delegating responsibility carefully. With the right IT consulting firm as a backup, these investments will soon be paying back dividends. The business benefits of IT consulting services are pretty sizable, so let’s have a look at some of them.
To the client, an IT consultant is an outsider (NB. a trusted outsider) with a fresh perspective and a trained eye. With the right experience, they will quickly point out issues unspotted even to the seasoned business owners. Next, they’ll take on the responsibility for exploring the underlying needs, while seeking and implementing optimal technological solutions that align with the company’s goals.
IT consultants can also be very effective in the long-term. The right IT consulting advice backed up by data and metrics, forms a reliable and achievable roadmap. Following it is easier than constantly searching for technological miracles.
It’s a futile idea to fully concentrate on something that isn’t your primary activity. It deprives businesses of energy and resources and leads to conflicts within teams. The role of IT consulting is to cover gaps in a company’s expertise in order to speed up the execution of tasks and approach the desired goals.
Moreover, IT consulting is about optimization. Tech advisors know how to organize IT infrastructures according to industry best practices. They can also help avoid issues that might appear when learning the technology business the hard way. Information technology consultants release one of the company’s most valuable business assets — time — in order to enhance a company’s primary operation.
IT consulting services reveal a company’s pain points so that business owners can be armed and ready for IT-related issues. Addressing them in advance helps to avoid financial and reputational risks. Moreover, as soon as a company delegates its IT needs to the consulting specialists, management can count on the professional execution of solutions while avoiding costly mistakes.
In the long-run, properly architectured systems within efficient IT environments allow companies to solve problems without external help, maturing into self-contained organizations. It’s wrong to think that once engaged in internal operations, IT consulting partners will become an eternal expensive add-on. The role of an IT consultant is to orchestrate, optimize and implement, not to incur excessive expenses.
Digital transformation has become imperative in today’s business environment. Business leaders keep weighing the pros and cons and decide whether they’re ready to begin a transformation journey on their own. Without a reliable IT consulting partner, there are plenty of pitfalls, like badly architectured systems, stale environment, clumsy legacy software, poor technological decisions, etc. IT consultancy seems a reasonable choice in most cases, as it’s hardly possible to keep track of the evolution of technology unless IT is your primary business.