An information technology (IT) advisor is a third-party consulting firm or an individual consultant. This type of advisor provides technical assistance for a company's IT infrastructure. Companies typically hire IT advisors to work alongside internal IT staff as mentors and to provide expert advice on the most current technological approaches. They also assist with strategic planning, capacity building and long-term communications strategy.
Technology is constantly evolving, sometimes changing faster than a company's staff can keep up; many companies have become increasingly dependent on technology as a whole. Some aspects of a company's operations can be wholly reliant on a working network and fast Internet access, such as the phone system and sales registers, as well as anything that runs off of the company's computers. If the network goes down, it can bring operations to a halt.
An IT advisor works with a client company to maintain and upgrade the network and servers. The advisor helps plan for hardware needs and helps structure Internet connectivity. These sorts of advisors can plan and implement a system upgrade or overhaul. Basically, anything an IT professional could be hired to do on staff, an IT advisor can be hired to help direct as a consultant. The benefit to using a consultant is the access to up-to-date expertise without the expense of carrying another employee on payroll.
Government agencies often hire IT advisors to help implement technology solutions outside of normal operations. For example, the US made significant use of these types of consultants during the war in Iraq. Third-party firms were hired to provide expertise in setting up and maintaining communications and connectivity in the desert. These types of civilian contractors made it possible for the US military to offer soldiers Internet interactivity with family members back in the states while maintaining network security.
In an ordinary context, companies often bring in an IT advisor at the planning stages of a technology changeover. The consultant helps formalize a strategic plan, establishes a budget and conceptualizes future technology needs. Another popular use of an IT advisor is to help interject a sustainability plan into a company's technology framework.
Third-party consultants do not always have to be involved at the macro level. A company can hire an IT advisor to consult on a single aspect of its technology deployment. For example, a consultant can be engaged to improve the company's help desk system or to change a PBX phone system to call center software.