I was talking to a client a couple of days ago and he said he would be willing to pay me from his own budget as an “Information Consultant” rather than as a provider of IT services. I can see that working for Excel but would unfortunately be a more difficult sell for Access (although there’s no real reason why). I work with people who use Excel (and Access) to collect and analyze “Information”. Some of that info can come from centralized databases and corporate but as we all know here, a lot of it comes directly from spreadsheets or is calculated in spreadsheets. This is “Business Information”.
If the user did their analysis using a piece of paper, or even a calculator, would that be considered an IT function? Is the preparation of a Word-Processing document an IT function or “merely” part of the business process? If you hire a communication or marketing specialist to help you make a slick and professional Powerpoint presentation is that an IT function? If not then what is the difference?
Microsoft has a class of reps worldwide that specialize in Information Workers focusing on the tools that IW’s use. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure their path inside organizations is still through IT and they wouldn’t appreciate this distinction. But it’s an open question though whether support of IW’s is an IT or a business function.
I will be talking more about my IW skills and less about my IT skills when discussing solutions with clients for a while and see what happens.