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Why Google Can't Replace IT Consultants

Why Google Can't Replace IT Consultants
In the good old days if you knew how to set up a printer in the office you were comparable to God. Two decades later, technology is much more user-friendly, and the younger generations are incredibly tech-savvy. When I joined GE in the 1990's, I remember encountering many poorly documented and closed systems that only a man in the basement with a big beard and thick glasses could operate... and this person would rule his empire with an iron fist, requiring you to beg and plead for even the smallest system change. Only he knew how to even perform simple tasks, but it was always explained as if incredibly difficult. Today, several factors have changed the "Emperor in the Cellar" syndrome:

Younger generation: People entering the work place since 2002 grew up with PC's at home and started using the internet in their early teens. Their mind has been trained from an early age to quickly grasp technology and get things working. My old man born in 1945 still cannot understand the concept of "digital pointing device", so if he wants to erase a piece of text, he will spend 10 minutes whacking the backspace, delete, and arrow keys with a single finger. It doesn't matter how well you explain it, the brain is scared of technology and will do it in its own logical way.

Google: Every time I have an issue or question, I simply Google the answer. Early search engines in the 90's were rubbish, generally bringing something back related to porn, but Google took search to a whole new level relevancy and tastefulness.

Technology has become more user-friendly: Companies started imitating Apple, and have created plug and play devices and products, so that even a chimpanzee can make a personal computer fully operational. Software now comes with installation wizards that simply require you to agree to some simple terms and conditions (i.e. they will assign your soul to the devil if you pirate their software), and the rest is done for you.

So if technology has become more user friendly, you can find out everything else on Google, and the next generation of workers will know everything anyway, why would you want to invest in an IT consultant?

I think Chip Camden gives some excellent reasons on Techrepublic.com:

- Although Google can lead you to the advice of an expert, it can also lead you down a path that's just plain wrong - or wrong for your situation.

- As user-friendly as software and hardware have become, the cases in which everything "just works" are still the minority. Paradoxically, user-friendliness itself often makes diagnosing failures all the more difficult, because the interface "protects" the user from what's going on under the covers.

- Google often provides the answer you're looking for, though it may not be the answer you need. In other words, you might be asking the wrong question.

- Because search results are ranked according to authority, Google encourages a "collective wisdom" approach to solving problems. Inspiration, on the other hand, comes from seeing connections that few have seen before.

- That's not to say that you can't have serendipitous moments with Google - I experience them frequently. But serendipity is in the eye of the googler. An intuition informed by experience will see the opportunity for relevance, while a novice will think "oh, that's not what I'm looking for" and move on.

- Freely available solutions may not solve the exact same problem that you're facing. A 10% divergence from the same goals or constraints may require quite a bit of expertise to adapt it to the purpose.

- The plan is not as important as how it is executed.

And I would like to add a few extra points not raised by Chip Camden. An IT Consultant can bring a wealth of expertise with them, not least on the technology side of things but also interpersonal skills. You cannot deliver an IT project successfully without proper change and stakeholder management, and this requires a proven track record, someone who has been there and done that will not make the same costly mistakes twice. Even when you have found the answer on Google, executing the idea is where most great ideas and solutions fail, bringing in an IT consultant who can fearlessly execute can often mean the difference between success or failure.  

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