Windward Insights

How IT Consulting has changed in the last 20 years

Published Aug. 24, 2020
Written by Vikki Fraser

AOL Online CD

When was the last time you thought about Y2K? It’s been a minute right? Ah, the year 2000.

That was the year we all got the I Love You virus via email. Some of you (not me) were downloading songs via Napster. Grandma wanted help with her AOL CD. It’s been over 20 years and so many things have changed in digital technology between then and now.

Y2K is a good place to start because after we realized our computers weren’t actually going to have a massive crash, the internet age really began to ramp up and every technology changed to keep up. Bandwidth expanded, wireless networks emerged and the internet became more pervasive in homes and businesses across the country. But it also meant the ability to move data faster internally between teams and sharing resources such as software and digital assets.

Then along comes the dot com bubble because Grandma’s finally on the internet and funding for dot-coms goes through the roof. For a few glorious years it seemed this was the epitome of technological advancement. Then it all crashed. And many promising companies fell.

Was this a litmus test of what could survive in the e-This and i-That era? Maybe, but those that survived had to adjust their way of doing business. And like other businesses IT consulting companies made a paradigm shift. It would be the third seismic shift of the digital age after the personal computing boom and the creation of the Internet.

Nothing changed the world of business more than digital technology and like the universe around us the depth and breadth of it is constantly expanding. Because of this, becoming an expert in large swaths of the IT infrastructure is no longer possible. As each element of IT fractures down into micro components the need to have singular level specialists increases. One stop shops are a thing of the past. Nowadays you have to pick a lane or get overwhelmed by scope creep and the sprawl of the initial ask. Welcome to the Internet Age. Modern IT consulting firms needed to look into a rapidly changing future and had to place bets on the strategic direction of their prospects.

Consultancy quit being a one and done operation and became a fluid and agile practice of offering deep expertise, aligning with client interests, and delivering value for the duration of the project.

How consultants engage with clients is changing as well. Gone are the days of dropping a powerpoint in a client’s lap and walking away. Now IT Consulting companies pair up knowledge experts and delivery experts to offer end-to-end consulting from project inception to project completion.

Companies know it can be cost prohibitive to staff certain aspects of expertise with full-time employees. Many companies turn to IT consultants to bridge the gap. IT Consultants help to close the knowledge and skills gaps found in enterprise IT teams. This could be platform expertise, practice expertise or solid experience in delivery methodologies.

Most consultants get an opportunity to peek inside the inner workings of multiple types of business and it results in a robust knowledgebase of best-practices and well-honed problem solving capabilities. And let’s face it, every good consultant has faced their fair share of unpredictable challenges, missed client deadlines and platform failure that could have risked their projects. The best consultants know how to anticipate weak points in a project and manage risk in order to ensure delivery.

The client side has shifted as well. More and more consultants get an eagle eye view into the entire operation to properly align their strategies with the clients needs. Client expectations are higher and they expect innovation and a palpable return on investment. As such, gatekeepers have been replaced with project facilitators designed to ensure project success.

Now that the 80’s era notion of consulting companies has gone away, businesses are also realizing that they don’t need to go it alone when faced with major disruptors. These can include:

  • Industry disruption – Streaming services
  • Emerging technologies – AIOPs and Machine Learning
  • Organizational change – Moving to the cloud
  • Industry shifts – Producing ventilators rather than car parts
  • Splits in concentration – New business avenues
  • Large growth strategies – Putting VC funding to work
  • Mergers and acquisition – Combining companies and merging technologies
  • Split up – Corporate action to financially split a business
  • Times of crisis – A global pandemic and economic downturn
  • Conversion of legacy technology – Old servers and programs

One thing remains the same, the world of IT consulting will always be a fast-paced game of change and adoption of the latest technology. The rate of change is accelerating, which means that all IT consultants are not equal. It is more important than ever to understand your objectives and where you need support so you can find the best IT consulting firm for your unique needs. Windward Consulting Group prides itself on our breadth of experience, expertise and thinking that starts with the needs of the IT Operations professional at our core. IT Operations is in our DNA, which is why the Fortune 500 relies on us when every move counts.


Windward Consulting Group was established in 1997 and has guided its clients through the Y2K panic, the Dot Com bust, 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and are leading the way in thought leadership and innovation during COVID-19.