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Information Technology Consultants

The Job

Information technology consultants utilize their in-depth knowledge of the IT industry, computer and telecommunications hardware and software, and the Internet (including social media and cloud computing) to help clients achieve their technology goals. They have a wide range of duties, depending on their employers and the needs of their clients. Generally speaking, their work can be divided into five broad categories:

  1. Creating an IT strategy that will help their client implement its overall business strategy
  2. Designing a specific technology solution (software, hardware, data-mining/analysis strategy, etc.) that supports this strategy
  3. Managing the development and implementation of the new system or technology, including training staff and providing help-desk services to the client’s customers and/or employees
  4. Devising and implementing strategies to integrate existing technology with new systems
  5. Overseeing newly implemented technologies through their entire life cycles, and possibly taking responsibility for all or a portion of their client’s IT department/strategy  

Information technology consultants are problem solvers who work with a variety of employers. For example, an IT consultant might be tasked with creating a customer relationship management system and strategy for a retailer that identifies top customers, studies customer behavior online, and develops strategies to better communicate with and serve customers online. Another might help a major health care system transition from paper records to a digital record-keeping system. 

Information technology consultants have a wide range of duties, but examples of some typical tasks include analyzing a client’s current use of the Internet to determine what markets the company is reaching—or failing to reach; designing a company’s e-commerce Web site, and helping it create a consistent digital message; studying a client’s data-mining software, and providing advice on how to optimize and expand data collection and analysis capabilities; helping an online retailer plan for future IT growth and increased capacity requirements; training a company’s staff to use new software or hardware; and developing and implementing IT security strategies that protect a government agency from hacking and industrial espionage. 

External IT consultants work for IT consulting firms such as Accenture, IBM, and Capgemini. They are employed by clients on a project basis, and clients are billed by the hour for consultants’ services. Internal IT consultants work as salaried employees for companies and other organizations and provide advice only to their employer. Some consultants work independently (running their own businesses) and are paid for their work by the hour; others may be paid by the project.

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