E-business turns up the heat on the Big Five

Perhaps no topic will elicit a stronger response from IT executives than a discussion about consultants, particularly the mighty Big Five consulting firms. For years these companies have acted like the tech industry's power brokers, choosing those vendors - be it SAP or Microsoft - that will define your business processes and technology architectures.

But the days of winning the business with the best MBA buzzwords and cosiest relationships may be waning. Web-focused integration companies are running circles around the drawn-out methodologies and business-process re-engineering mind-sets that just don't fly in the age of electronic business. There may not be many tears shed for the tough times that the top consulting dogs are having. How often have the best and brightest been there for the sell, but programming rookies have shown up to do the work? And how about the effectiveness of IT and end-user training, or ‘knowledge transfer'?

Lingering resentment aside, the shape of business and technology consulting is rapidly shifting with the Web demanding a broad range of skills.

The good news is that integration technology and skills are fast improving, making these one-off Web projects more easily digestible by the rest of the company. The Big Five's experience with complexity, plus its extensive vertical industry knowledge, should play to the strengths of the firms involved. That is, if they don't spin off into too many pieces in an effort to gain start-up cache.

Is the old guard or new school meeting your e-business services needs?

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