Help an IT consultant find his niche!
December 21, 2007 8:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm an IT consultant with a broad set of skills and experiences, and I need help finding my niche!

Here's the background: 18 years in the "industry" starting as an infrastructure grunt, moved to system administration, then to IT management (Mgr -> AVP -> VP in charge of 30 person BA/PM/Dev/Infrastructure team in investment services firm), then out to consulting firm "selling" custom enterprise development. I'm now on my own doing planning, RFPs, project management, implementations, and whatever else they'll pay me for... This is month 7 of this current incarnation of my career, and I have a dream of building something beyond billing my own hours, but I'm still stumbling around trying to define my "niche".

The broad sense of "niche" I have been working with is to be an agnostic source of advice on IT planning and investment. My motivation behind this is that one of my biggest pet peeves is the "consultant" who's looking to solve an organization's business problems with a solution that carries 20 points of licensing revenue, 500 hours of services at 200 bucks an hour and 3 years of sustainment at 15% of total fees. Maybe I'm being naive and that is the way the game is meant to be played, but I'm looking for something more meaningful... if only I could find it!

So, I guess I'm looking for ideas, feedback, random anecdotal information, experiences from others who've done something similar.

Thanks in advance for your input!
posted by thehickmans to Work & Money (3 answers total)
If you're not involved in Open Source, jump in.

This serves a few purposes: first, it's much easier to be agnostic when you're not trying to get the comission on a bunch of Oracle licenses; second, working on/with OSS is far more fulfilling than helping Microsoft make another billion; and finally, it's pretty obvious that Open Source -- or, at the very least, Open standards/platforms -- is where the IT and software industries are heading.

IOW: I'm happiest about my carreer choice when I'm contributing to Open Source.
posted by jacobian at 8:44 PM on December 21, 2007

That is the way the game is meant to be played. If you're not asking for big fees people aren't quite sure what to do with you.

But you could always work for a start-up.
posted by Pants! at 8:59 PM on December 21, 2007

You could start a Linux services company, or go to work for RedHat or something.

Anyone who's a low-level grunt in IT will see a huge amount of waste. Things being done that don't need to be done, money being spent that doesn't need to be spent, and so on.

But think about it from the corporations point of view. They have a problem, and they have a dump truck full of money. What they want to do is dump out the money and have the problem go away. The particulars are not really their concern. So, if it's possible to use cheaper software, well, who cares really?

And furthermore, why on earth does it matter? Why bust your balls to save some soulless corporation some extra money? If you want to make the world a better place, go work for some NGO setting up educational networks in the 3rd world. That would be a much more cost sensitive job, and a lot more rewarding.

If you just want to make a lot of money, you could work for a startup as someone said.
posted by delmoi at 9:53 PM on December 21, 2007

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