So you have 20 years of engineering and business management experience under your belt. It is logical that you will have a level of tacit knowledge many companies will pay for.

In the years following the Dot COM meltdown I remember encountering many consultants. Guys we’d worked with for many years, and knew the telecommunications business cold. Everybody thought when the Dot COM Old Guy Possibly a Telecom Consultantmeltdown occurred, these guys would do great with their new consulting careers. I mean, with that amount of experience young companies should be throwing money at these guys with all the experience.

In a recent post on a cloud computing mailing list, an old timer from the telecom days admitted that for him “being an independent consultant means about the same thing as “being unemployed.”

That’s impossible. The old guys are needed, and young companies cannot survive without their experience and leadership. Right?

Or is it also possible that technology is changing so fast right now, that like the old telecom guys who could quote the process of determining minutes ratios, settlement, allocators, and all those other tremendously complicated telecom negotiations just fell by the side as really smart younger guys who were tremendously Internet-savvy blew past them?

Yup – that’s pretty much what happened.

Over the past few years the joke was “you cannot swing a dead cat over your head in downtown LA without whacking an unemployed telecom engineer.” Guys that are struggling every day trying to figure out how to squeeze minutes out of Internet phones. Guys who are trying to grasp the idea of losing everything they understood and worked for in the good old days of Nortel DMS 250/300s and AT&T 4E/5ESS telephone gateway switches.

Guess what… it is happening again. The current economic meltdown, and huge unemployment numbers are hitting the telecom industry. Lots of newly established independent consulting companies on the street, established with a couple hundred dollars and a do-it-yourself LLC incorporation website. The old guys are trying desperately to throw together snappy websites with basic static HTML pages that discuss their ability to provide “powerful solutions” to “all your business needs.”

It is almost painful to see. While at the same time energetic young serial entrepreneurs aggressively hammer away at the emerging cloud computing industry, entertainment and content delivery industries, social media sites, and Internet service providers. Ooops, well maybe the guys running the ISPs should start looking at taking a couple extra courses on cloud computing at their local technical schools, as the ISP business may also be providing us with a new community of consultants during economic difficulties…

There is a need for consultants. Developing countries still lack the basic knowledge and skills needed to bring their country infrastructures up to at least “entry-level” global speed. Smaller cities in the US and Canada are still under served by both telecom/Internet services, and local adoption of Internet-enabled services into the business and local communities.

LA does not need consultants. New York, Northern Virginia, the Bay Area – all those places have passed the late stage worker generation, and left them behind in a heap of wandering consultants. Consultants who were CTOs, CEOs, VPs, …KEY MOUSEs.

The older generation (those of us past 35) need to stop, breathe, and assess where we are with our industries and professional communities. We can either go for the next generation of technology with reckless abandon (cloud computing….), or eventually find our way to the telecom “fossil” bar to talk about the good old days and whine about the indignity of our current situation.

Independent consultants are the same thing as being unemployed… Damn…

I won’t stand for that… Watch out cloud computing community!

John Savageau, Long Beach

Independent Telecom and Internet Consultant

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2 Responses to “The Real Story Behind Independent Internet Consultants?”

  1. Leandro says:

    Working as an autonomous is risky. Nice article. :]

  2. johnsavageau says:

    Thanks for the comment. I think it is possible to start a new company, even a consulting company, but you need to do your homework. Tough times, and a lot of good talent on the street. But, the people who are willing to work really hard will still do well.

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