Alan Radding, Big4.com Guest Blogger
(A book is the best way to build a consulting practice: ask about ghostwriting your book)
Gartner recently revised its forecast for worldwide IT spending in 2013, upping its Q3 2012 figures from 3.8% growth to 4.2% although a chunk of that gain results from currency fluctuations. Still, it’s good news for consultants hoping to boost their own revenues this year. Better still, Gartner predicts IT services revenue will increase from under 2% last year to over 5% this year. Enterprise software revenue will jump from 3.3% in 2012 to 6.4% this year and 6.8% in 2014.
Accenture also does market forecasts but not quantitative projections like Gartner. It 2012 Information Market Forecast instead looked at six broad trends: context-based services, converging data architectures, industrialized data services, social-driven IT, PaaS-enable agility, and orchestrated analytical security.
For IT consultants the challenge is to stake out a distinctive area of expertise and build the practice around it. Each of the areas below has an attractive business case but hasn’t yet been so saturated that it reverts to being a commodity service. Where’s the money in that?
Below are 10 good areas. Let’s start with the first five and pick up the rest in a subsequent piece. Feel welcome to add some others you think of.
- Combating zero-day attacks
- Machine generated data
- Cloud systems integration
- Corporate app stores
- In memory computing
- Enterprise SSD
- NoSQL and alternatives to relational data
- Totally mobile (detached)workforce
- Virtualized automated enterprises (software defined everything)
Combating zero-day attacks—an IT system threat or attack that exploits a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer system. It strikes before (zero-day) the vendor, IT, and security teams have had no time to prepare by coding a security patch or otherwise addressing the vulnerability. The easiest defense is to help your clients create and enforce a white list of tested safe code and only allow code on the white list to run.
There also is money in identifying previously undiscovered vulnerabilities. Andy Greenberg at Forbes reports that you can share the new vulnerability with HP’s Zero Day Initiative and earn as much as $10,000 for helping the company shore up its security gear. He also documents a black market for zero-day vulnerabilities. For example, a Windows vulnerability could get your $120,000, a Chrome or IE vulnerability brings as much as $200,000, and an IOS vulnerability commands $250,000.
Machine generated data—also referred to as machine-to-machine (M2M) data, can form a significant part of the explosion of data your clients are experiencing. The data comes not from users or your regular applications but from computers communicating with other systems. Machine-generated data tends to be the result of automated sensing and monitoring, logs, RFID data, GPS captures, and more. It increasingly is poured into analytics systems as part of big data efforts to measure, analyze, and streamline business processes. According to a report in Consultant Value Added, the M2M services market is expected to rise to $35 billion by 2016. The best role for consultants will be to help clients conceive, design, and develop analytic approaches that extract business value from the data.
Cloud systems integration—the adoption of cloud computing in various forms by enterprises is expected to turn from a trickle into a steady stream this year. This will create a growing need for fast systems integration as organizations need to integrate their existing on-premise systems and various cloud offerings from multiple providers. A report from Global Industry Analysts suggests that cloud adoption and virtualization are driving increased demand for easily accessible and flexible integration services. The systems integration market is projected to grow at about 5.15% annually through 2017. And this isn’t just about private enterprise; government, federal and state, will require integration services.
Corporate app stores—most are familiar with the big consumer app stores from Apple and Google. The era of BYOD, however, is driving the need for organizations to rein in the uncontrolled use of these stores. The solution is to provide a corporate app store that allows workers to get the approved apps they want while your clients retain a level of control. Forbes described the corporate app store as iTunes for enterprise software, allowing workers to download software applications when needed. Corporate app stores give employees the freedom to select the applications they need within minutes and without the typical helpdesk intervention. To justify bringing you in as the consultant to set this up a corporate app store brings about IT helpdesk cost and time reductions. With 12% of IT helpdesk ticket requests from new software, a corporate app store could save more than $8.6 billion a year in IT helpdesk costs.
In memory computing—this is about speed. In-memory computing stores information in a computer’s immediate memory rather than on slow storage devices. It enables organizations to capture and analyze data in near real time for decision-making. An organization, for example, may be able to influence a purchase while the prospect is still online or detect churn patterns on the fly and reverse the churn. As was the case with M2M data, your job will be to identify the processes and systems that will deliver the biggest paybacks fastest and then design, execute, or deploy the required real-time analytics and automation. Probably start with big data.
This should keep you busy in 2013.