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IT consultants are gaining influence inside enterprise accounts and with their SMB counterparts—and for good reason.

With technology initiatives becoming more tightly tied to an organization’s overall business strategy, the influence of and need for a sophisticated IT consultant partner to help strategize, organize and manage the deployment process is becoming vital to the success of the rollout.

The complications inherent in complying with overlapping federal reporting regulations mean that companies—regardless of size or vertical industry—need to tap the expertise of consultants. Without up-to-date expertise they risk wasting time, money, being at a disadvantage to their competition—not to mention their top executives could wind up in jail.

Enterprise-class organizations used to bring in IT consultants exclusively for “big project” rollouts such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) or CRM (customer relationship management.)

And while that is certainly still true—in fact during a recent eSeminar I moderated on CRM all the panelists stressed the importance of consultants in a CRM initiative—the role of the consultant has expanded and grown even more influential because IT is that much more integrated into a corporate strategy than it was even a year ago.

IT consultants are now being brought in to strategize not only for rollouts of business-process management software, but also IT strategies revolving around security, wireless, business intelligence, storage and server optimization, and everything related to Sarbanes-Oxley.

VARs play a vital role in CRM rollouts. Click here to read more.

And again, this is true regardless of company size. Many SMBs (small and medium business) are running enterprise-class IT environments in order to compete nationally or even globally. They are embracing business-process management software, investing in wireless capabilities and taking their data centers virtual.

This is all in an effort to maximize their technology investments and play on a large field. Consultants are a major force in this movement because most of these organizations do not have the internal IT resources to accomplish any of this to any degree of success.

This is the main reason Ziff Davis eSeminars has teamed with Consulting Magazine for the Consulting Leadership Virtual Symposium being held completely online this week.

We are bringing together some of the top minds at some of the leading consulting organizations from Deloitte Consulting, BearingPoint, Perot Systems, Booze Allen Hamilton, Unisys, Dimension Data and others to discuss the vital roles they play in many facets of corporate IT strategies.

What you will hear from the major consultancies themselves is how the churn of the global economy is revealing a new and influential role in the deployment of strategic IT capabilities. No longer are consultants, and integrators for that matter, being relegated to the ranks of mere IT implementers.

Instead, the influence consultants wield today is steadily escalating as the link between technology adoption and strategic decision making becomes ever more visible and critical to every business.

Our symposium kicks off on a high note with a keynote presentation by James Champy, chief of consulting of Perot Systems. Then there will be three Hot Button panels that will tackle the major issues facing the consultant world in its dealings with corporate IT.

The first panel will be “Corporate IT Defense Challenges: Urgent Remedies for Clients at Risk,” which will cover the burgeoning portfolio of consulting services that are now helping corporations and government agencies integrate IT security into their strategic business planning.

The second discussion, “Beyond SOX: Tactics and Strategies for the New Regulatory Environment,” will outline the new regulatory compliance requirements and how consulting leaders and client executives have pioneered the tactics and strategies now allowing client businesses to thrive and grow in the new regulatory environment.

The final discussion is titled “Time-based Business Integration: New Rules for Client Engagements,” and will outline how IT consultants are helping energize enterprises with a portfolio of service offerings that bring more capability faster and cheaper.

So don’t take my word for it. I see how the role of IT consultants is increasing in value every day. Check out the conference for yourself at

Elliot Markowitz is editor-at-large of The Channel Insider. He is also editorial director of Ziff Davis Media eSeminars. He can be reached at