I've been noticing a few things lately here in Winnipeg:
Less large custom application development projects
More adoption of packaged software
More adoption of Software as a Service platforms
Organizations wanting control over technology projects, only looking for augmentation roles to fill gaps
The commoditization of software developers with broad skills
The cloud is removing the need for organizations to manage and maintain their own infrastructure. Software as a Service provides a model where organizations can rent lower-priority applications/services while focusing their own development staff on higher priority initiatives. Consultants with specialized skills in mobile, integration, security, and platforms (SharePoint, SAP, etc.) still demand higher rates, but organizations are no longer willing to pay a premium for .NET or Java developers.
Consulting firms who sell professional services need to become aware of these trends and pivot on what they offer to their marketplace. Consider the items below, all of which should have initiatives in flight or be on the radar for any professional services company.
Azure and AWS are gaining more customers by the day, and releasing new features and offerings on their cloud platform. Microsoft announced at Ignite this year that organizations would be able to install the exact same Azure software that Microsoft uses in the public Azure cloud, meaning organizations can get on board with Azure on prem and move to a hybrid or hosted cloud model when ready. Consultants need to be able to show customers how to move to the cloud, the benefits of moving to the cloud, and provide the services to bridge the knowledge gaps in developing software for the cloud.
Software as a Service
The Buy/Build mantra has been replaced with Buy/SaaS/...I guess we'll consider building. If a package solution can't be found, organizations are more than willing to consider a SaaS solution before investing in a custom built application that must then be maintained. Consultants need to be aware of available solutions when advising clients on the best options for their needs. There's also an opportunity for consulting organizations to create their own SaaS and enter the product market.
Also note that even if an organization opts to build a custom application, most enterprises employ skilled developers who can deliver it instead of sourcing out to a consulting firm; more and more I've seen professional service organizations be contacted for resource augmentation rather than taking an entire project.
Security has been largely ignored for years. With recent hacks, threats of cyber-attacks, and the continual onslaught of viruses, organizations are finally realizing that they need to treat security seriously. While this is a growing area, there is still more work available than service providers that can offer it.
If you aren't in the mobile space already then you're lagging behind. Companies that invested in mobile skills are reaping the rewards now. Organizations are realizing that mobile solutions aren't just about empowering the internal workforce; its also about reaching customers and the community at large. What those organizations need are partners who can help show what's possible.
As organizations incorporate non-centralized IT solutions with cloud, SaaS, and mobile into their environments that probably include enterprise systems alongside custom/niche applications, sharing data across all of these will be an important consideration. Integration consultants who can help clients navigate their system landscape and implement things like ESBs, data warehouses, and BI/Analytics solutions will find opportunities – although in laggard markets there will be a need to educate clients on the benefits.
What About Your Market?
I'd be curious to hear if people in other markets, whether in Canada or in the US, are seeing/experiencing the same type of trends. Or maybe you're in Winnipeg and have a different take on the market. If you have comments, either leave them below or if you decide to do your own blog post please leave a link to it in the comments.