Will e-consulting firms survive the current stock market volatility? Several TechRepublic readers recently traded punches on this topic.

“Who will climb out of consulting’s black hole?”, a recent column by Tom Rodenhauser, gave notice of recent layoffs at Scient, Viant, and Lante. These firms are following in the footsteps of the other e-consultantcies, Rodenhauser noted, and have the potential to pull down everything in their path.

“Right now, we’re seeing the e-consultants try to claw their way to profitability,” he wrote. “Some will make it. Most won’t. And mercifully, many of those firms will be put out of their misery.”

The columns set off a discussion among IT consultants. Read on to find out what your peers said.

Unemployment is inevitable
Dugger warned consultants to prepare for being terminated. But fortunately, if they’re any good technically or managerially, consultants can be ready to move to the next role at any time and with little notice. Here are Dugger’s suggestions for successful termination recovery:

  • Keep your skills broad, deep, and current.
  • Build and maintain relationships with peers and clients.
  • Volunteer for “yucky” projects. Garbage collectors tend to stay employed because there is a lot of garbage.
  • Join professional organizations.
  • Avoid the greed factor when selecting another role. Look beneath the covers of the offers, so to speak.
  • Take something less than you’d hoped for so that you are employed.

Keep your skills sharp
Echoing Dugger’s warnings of inevitable firings and layoffs, prjp wrote that the strength of the industry depends less on the stock market and more on the consultants.

“We have to look closely at the consulting skills of those involved to see if they are providing exceptional value or just hype to their clients,” prjp wrote. “I know of three instances where one of the mentioned e-consulting firms lost accounts based on their ability to deliver value to their clients. This has nothing to do with the market in general, but [is specifically about] delivering on a promise.”

hbetts3 agreed, but added that this downturn in the consulting industry is so well-covered because the public is only interested in bad news.

“Remember—we are a society of ‘rubberneckers’ that slow down at traffic accidents in the hopes of seeing some mangled body part. We Americans revel in mass destruction. So it is more important to show how not to do things in our media postings. All hail the tabloid journalism model.”

Not MY consulting firm
Other respondents used the discussion as an opportunity to put rumors to rest and assure their peers of their own firms’ economic health.

ShockRide, for instance, promised that Renaissance Worldwide is one of those firms that’s doing well.

“We currently have no debt, and our office does not have any problem placing anyone,” ShockRide wrote. “Unfortunately, our stock price does not reflect that, and I think it is because of other firms such as MarchFirst, BORN, and others.”

Maxim Group is also going strong, said bblauer. “It is privately held, so no stock is available, but [we] believe strongly in service to both customers and consultants.”

BORN Guy took issue with ShockRide’s comments, and defended his firm.

“How is it that you feel companies like MarchFirst and BORN are affecting your stock price? Typically, a company has the greatest effect on their own stock by the way they conduct their business,” BORN Guy wrote. “BORN continues to grow and gain new clients. They were just named the 12th best company to work for by Fortune Magazine. BORN is a private company, [so] the only effect they could have on Renaissance’s stock price is by taking business.”
Are these IT consultants right about the upcoming changes in the industry? Join the discussion or send us a note.