Thursday, June 23, 2005

Popular Consulting

Learn programmingCNN has a story up this week about how outsourcing is causing computer science grads to turn to Management Consulting for better job prospects. In typical schlock journalism style, they pick out a real guy, with a name, and let his words symbolize a typical person. They frame him thusly:
Consulting, he says, will insulate him from the offshore outsourcing that's sending thousands of once-desirable computer programming jobs overseas.

More important, Mo believes his consulting gig is more lucrative, rewarding and imaginative than a traditional tech job. He characterized his summer programming internships as "too focused or localized, even meaningless."

"A consulting job injects you into companies at a higher level," he said. "You don't feel like you're doing basic stuff."
Mo's summer internships were boring, but now he's gonna be a big Consultant. No basic stuff for Mo. Look out world, here comes Mo! The article continues...
The research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that up to 15 percent of tech workers will drop out of the profession by 2010, not including those who retire or die. Most will leave because they can't get jobs or can get more money or job satisfaction elsewhere. Within the same period, worldwide demand for technology developers ... is forecast to shrink by 30 percent.

Gartner researchers say most people affiliated with corporate information technology departments will assume "business-facing" roles, focused not so much on gadgets and algorithms but corporate strategy, personnel and financial analysis.
Development is out. "Corporate strategy, personnel and financial analysis" are in. So no new "gadgets and algorithms" and such geeky stuff. We're just going to sell what we have ever more ninja-like, with fewer people, and count up all the money money money.

Maybe I just don't understand what management consultants bring to the table. Having been assigned the societal role of 'liberal', I naturally turn to Government for answers. The Department of Labor has this to say about management consultants:
Nature of the Work
As business becomes more complex, the Nation’s firms are continually faced with new challenges. Firms increasingly rely on management analysts to help them remain competitive amidst these changes. Management analysts, often referred to as management consultants in private industry, analyze and propose ways to improve an organization’s structure, efficiency, or profits. For example, a small but rapidly growing company that needs help improving the system of control over inventories and expenses may decide to employ a consultant who is an expert in just-in-time inventory management. In another case, a large company that has recently acquired a new division may hire management analysts to help reorganize the corporate structure and eliminate duplicate or nonessential jobs. In recent years, information technology and electronic commerce have provided new opportunities for management analysts. Companies hire consultants to develop strategies for entering and remaining competitive in the new electronic marketplace...
That doesn't help much. I'm having trouble imagining how anything gets created here. I only see mergers, pink slips, offshore holding companies, and Powerpoints - oh, God the Powerpoints!

Still, I think, we have America's elite universities to depend on - those wellsprings of innovation that have been the driving force for so much of our economic growth and prosperity in recent decades. Then I read this:
At Stanford, career experts are urging engineering and science majors to get internships and jobs outside of their comfort zones -- in marketing, finance, sales and even consulting. ... "When they're first hired at the entry level, just out of school, people can't always become a manager or team leader," Principal said. "But many employers see these people moving into management roles within two years. They need to know how to step into these roles quickly."
Just who and what will they be managing?

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