A new report shows that many companies in the ICT sector are wasting pots of cash by employing expensive consultants to tell them how to best build or outsource data centres - in terms of power consumption and cooling as well as all the other factors - and then either ignoring the advice given or changing the technical specifications they have paid for. Martyn Warwick asks, "What's the point of that, then?"
It's a given that employing a management consultant costs several arms (and even more legs) , for often questionable returns, but organisations will keep on doing it, presumably on the grounds that it adds apparently independent legitimacy to decisions that have already been taken in principle but not yet imposed physically.
In the UK the latest fad is for IT and telecoms companies to pay big money to independent consultants to provide advice and assistance in the design and speccing-out of data centres.
Now, many would consider such a strategy a massive waste of cash in the first place. However, new research shows that an incredible 97 per cent of companies that seek the help of expensive consultants then make matters worse by determinedly ignoring part or even all of the advice they have received and paid for.
That's the gist of a new report commissioned by the data centre solutions company Sentrum.
It shows that despite corporate willingness to spend large sums on consultants, senior management are massively distrustful of the advice they receive from them.
Sentrum conducted a hundred interviews with senior IT staff responsible for data centre operations at UK companies with more than 250 employees and the results show that whether organisations are either designing and building their own data centre or outsourcing some or all of their data centre requirements, once a consultant has rendered advice nine out of ten clients not only ignore the advice given but also change the recommended specifications of the technology solution so expensively recomended.
The new 2010 statistics reveal that 88 per cent of senior managers said they would turn to independent data centre consultants for advice on designing a corporate data centre. That figure rises to 96 per cent for those companies looking to outsource all or part of their data centre requirements.
Whether it's as a result of real or perceived pressure from the Board, the CEO, the CTO or investors, 42 per cent of respondents to Senrum's questions said they feel it incumbent upon themselves to take 'expert' advice - and that means hiring a costly consultant.
And, of course, given that the majority of a consultant's clients then comprehensively ignore the advice and expertise offered, the consultancy fees are completely wasted.
Franek Sodzawiczny, Sentrum's Development Director, says, with masterly understatement, that in these circumstances "the consultancy being offered is not proving to be cost effective."
He adds, "Advice is commonly rejected, which suggests that consultants are either not doing their homework or that they are not gaining the trust and understanding of their client. If customers are not being told what they need to know, from the outset of a project, they are just being forced in to making less informed decisions that will ultimately lead to longer-term issues. As companies lock down their future growth strategies, good consultancy partners, and their experience, knowledge and sound advice, will only become even more business critical.”
Or it could be the usual nonsense of playing corporate politics and jostling for position on the greasy pole to preferment. I leave you to decide which is the more likely.
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