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The development and spread of computer systems and networks mean information technology (IT) consultants have become an important part of many businesses. These consultants typically operate independently from the normal corporate hierarchy and are usually paid on a temporary basis to handle any or all aspects of a company’s information systems. IT consultants deal with a wide variety of business technology, including hardware, software and both internal and external networks. Some companies hire IT firms on a permanent basis to save money by outsourcing their technology services department. Specific roles for IT professionals range from high-level planning and development to short-term technical positions.
With the rapid pace of technological development, many companies feel overwhelmed by the need for reliable, secure information services for themselves and their customers. Many companies turn to information technology consultants to perform tasks and help advise them on their best course of action. Some IT consultants help clients determine when to upgrade their computer hardware and often provide cost estimates on replacing or updating current technology. Companies rely on these consultants to provide them with an independent, objective analysis of their current systems and give them recommendations for the future investment of resources.
On a practical level, many information technology consultants are hired temporarily to fill technical positions. This often occurs during a hardware or software upgrade, when companies need additional IT support to set up new systems or train employees on their use. IT consultants also may be brought in to perform a task until a position can be filled by a permanent employee or to help develop custom software for specialized business applications. Some IT firms specialize in providing staffing for these situations.
Computer security is another area in which information technology consultants have played an important role. Many companies do not see the need to employ a full-time computer security team and must often turn to IT security consultants when their systems are damaged or data are compromised by malicious programmers. IT consultants assist in restoring data and helping to secure the company’s network from further intrusions.
In general, information technology consultants are highly trained people who are capable of working in diverse environments. Many IT consultants are experts in their field and hold post-graduate degrees in computer science or engineering. Lower-level consultants may be certified computer technicians or networking specialists. As more companies turn toward technology to reduce costs and improve profits, IT consultants will continue to play an important role in developing and implementing business strategies.