Lend Me Your Ear
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There may be a lot of money to be made in hardware and software, but the big bucks are to be found in showing people how to use them. According to a recent report by the International Data Corp. (IDC), spending on consulting services will grow from roughly $34 billion in 1999 to almost $62 billion in 2003, a compound annual growth rate of 15.5 percent.

"The major driver behind this growth is e-commerce, primarily in the United states," says Marianne Hedin, research manager at IDC. "A lot of companies are worrying about what e-commerce is going to mean to them."

Hedin says that right now, many businesses are in a "post-ERP" wave and are turning to consultants to learn how to get value from these expensive solutions they have installed. Likewise, customer relationship management software implementations have generated a sizable amount of consulting fees. "CRM consulting is growing by 35 to 40 percent each year in the United states," says Hedin.

So after the consultants have collected their fees and gone home, what benefit can we expect to see from all this expensive giving of advice? "You are going to see increased productivity and dropping unemployment rates, " predicts Hedin. "You already see that happening in the United states."

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