5 Reasons to Hire an IT Consultant

As firms move data to the cloud and employees become more mobile, IT consultants are in high demand. Here's why you may need one, or why you may want to become one now.

As firms move their technology to the cloud and workers adopt mobile devices—smartphones and tablets—at increasingly higher rates, the need for IT consultants has risen in the past year. Here are some of the reasons some companies are reaching out to IT consultants to help optimize operations, and where you will find business opportunities in the industry.

Any in-demand skill does not come cheap, and talented IT workers are no exception. But many firms have found that it’s easier to hire IT staff on a project-by-project, as needed basis than it is to maintain a full-time in-house IT department. Dave Smith, owner and CEO of IT service provider and Inc. 500 honoree TekScape, says that managing other firms' IT issues has been a big factor in his company’s growth. Firms outsourcing IT solutions typically save between 20 to 30%, Smith says.

All sorts of company are moving their data and operations to the cloud, allowing employees to access and work with data from nearly anywhere. But few firms have the expertise to successfully integrate mobile solutions with their existing infrastructure. TekScape works with companies to integrate mobile systems with legacy ones so that employees can access documents and emails housed on the office network. Smith says the company also offers a solution that lets employees take office calls on their mobile device.

One challenge facing growing businesses is affording the server space needed to scale. Instead of buying bulky, costly servers, companies are storing their information and disaster recovery files in the cloud. “If you’re not doing it, you’re going to be antiquated,” Smith says.

There has been a push among companies to invest in “big data” in order to make better business decisions. But for many firms, the vast amount of data collected is not aggregated in a useful way. Jordan Cram, president of IT consulting agency and Inc. 500 honoree Enstoa, helps firms integrate disconnected data across various departments so clients can turn the data into a valuable asset.

When it comes to software that is counterintuitive or difficult to use, workers have been told to “deal with it and stop complaining” for years, Cram says. That attitude is changing. The “Apple Effect” has caused a major shift in IT philosophy; instead of making employees adapt to antiquated software, firms are hiring IT consultants to customize software and make it more user-friendly. “This will finally deliver on the promise of technology making things easier for people,” Cram says. Read more about the IT consulting industry. --John McDermott

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