Bringing IT to the masses.
After years of working at large consulting firms, Mark Allen decided it was time to start a firm that could offer the same level of expertise to companies that didn’t have deep pockets. The result, Atlanta-based LevelNet Consulting, helps businesses with everything from network installs to technology planning. Allen chats about security, optimism, and big bad fellow consultants.
What kinds of trends are you seeing lately in your consulting work?
Clients are focusing on security and technology planning. With the reduction of budgets, clients are forced to use what technology is in their hands already. Security is another area we see a rise in, even for simple security services. Some security engagements focus on principals and practices that were often overlooked before 9/11, even though these same principals have been around for years. With the increase in security awareness, strengthening network infrastructure security is a key concern of IT managers.
What are some of the challenges you encounter when consulting a company?
Budgetary constraints are always the largest challenge. But this is where true consulting partners differentiates themselves from others. Possessing the ability to understand and deliver full lifecycle technology solutions is an asset that benefits all of our clients in the form of larger return on investment. Also, some clients aren’t always aware of what technology solutions are in the marketplace. Once we understand the client’s needs, we assist them in identifying which solutions best meet their business goals and then begin aligning technology to satisfy and enable those goals.
What do you think about some of the recent negative perceptions of consulting?
There’s often a negative connotation associated with IT consultants, and sometimes with good reason. There’s more to consulting than getting some certification and installing hardware at ridiculously high hourly rates. A true IT consulting company does more than just install and maintain network hardware. We look at the client’s technology goals and build solutions that enable the client to meet these goals and expand with future needs. I started the company because I knew that LevelNet Consulting had the talent and experience to deliver premium consulting services that stand out from our competitors and do it at realistic prices.
How is LevelNet faring in the current economic climate?
We’re holding our own, but it’s definitely a tough market. We’re doing everything we can to attract new clients. Luckily, because of the relationships we forged with our past clients, we’re invited back for future engagements. I hope to see a turnaround in early 2003 but in the meantime, we’re countering the downturn by offering highly competitive rates for all of our services without sacrificing quality. Because we specialize in network consulting services, we can be competitive on premium services that are normally only available from larger consulting firms and at higher prices.
What future directions do you see for the company?
We’re certainly going to continue delivering the services in our current portfolio, but the IT industry is always changing and we will adjust accordingly. I see security, wireless, and converged network services gaining the most popularity. Luckily, network connectivity is a common denominator and will always be a requirement regarding new networking technologies. I’m optimistic and looking forward to whatever the future brings.
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