As an IT infrastructure consultant, in the past, I have occasionally delivered output that was not directly actionable. I hate that and I am determined not to do it again.
Getting Things Done
If you think about the steps required to get something done in the world of corporate IT, you might need a project brief, some options analysis, a high level design and a business case, sometimes in that order and sometimes not. IT Consulting should make a significant contribution to at least one of these steps, to help the organisation on its way to actually getting something done.
Consulting Vs Engineering
Sometimes IT engineering services are referred to as consulting. The key difference between consulting and engineering in my thinking is that engineering relies on a high degree of product-specific expertise. You can become an expert in deploying and using a product, but you can't be a real expert in many things because the commitment required is too large. Understandably there is also a high degree of inertia built-into engineering. It takes a lot of effort to become an expert, and having achieved that, it's hard to let go of something you have worked hard to certify in and the vendor with whom you may have a good relationship. It's hard to let go of what you know even if letting go is the right thing to do.
The consulting I'm talking about operates at a layer above engineering, clarifying requirements, looking ahead, assessing fit and value, and drilling down into technical details in key areas of risk or where red flags appear. But when consulting is done right there is no inertia built into it. Requirements vary and the marketplace of options moves onward, sometimes at pace. Consultants need to be able to let go of what was best last year, the brands they love and the way it's always been done. They need to be on a constant mission to understand and consider new options as they arise, including the disruptive ones (and their associated risks) and not just the latest ideas from their favourite vendors.
Being inertia-free, but determined to help get something done is how consultants can add some real value.