Any vision of the future for consulting in Telco?

In Italy, right after 9/11/2001, the consultancy in Telecommunication was just at the very beginning.
Big Consulting firms were focusing on hardware design, integration, product concepts or process management mostly in other industrial branches.
Operators used to sign one year contracts with service integrators, or partners, and consultants were just time&material software developers assigned to specific (low level) tasks.
Vendors and Equipment suppliers used to hire contractors for the most repetitive, boring and low level tasks.
Actually, as they first suffered from market crisis, they immediately dropped  these contracts, relocating their skilled resources to other tasks , still having too much internals to deal with. (Thus, for some of them, this meant a change from complex design Windows MineField game).
In this scenario, even the smaller company in the consulting business of Telco could really choose and pick up well trained, skilled resources
with very specific and deep knolwedge, willing to do something new rather than getting bored in front of a browser (no facebook at that time).
It was still the period of upcoming big changes in Telco, both network and services were entering a fast changing phase.
It would have been a dream, for an operator,if only he could pick one or two of the right guys from the vendors and assign them to a project without the need to hire them.
Demand and offer met in telco consulting firms.
They grew. Rapidly, fastly. They merged one into another once the crisis gave operators the power to “select at the entrance” and make some order in the jungle of consulting firms fighting and stealing each others the best resources (with the risk of rising prices to operators).
In the past two years the supplier vendors landscape has been completely renewed.
They reduced their mass. Their are slim now. And fast.  So slim that once they settled to the right “weight”, they started again hiring consultants.
But hey, you know what, consultants are no more the ones they used to work with in 2001.
The neo graduated shy guy from Manpower now has a 10 years experience with operators, third parties and system integrators.
Those who chose to remain consultant have developed now a special eye to selct the best resources from the market, and sell them to the right price. Of course Vendors rapidly realized this, and found more convenient swapping their contracts with local consulting into partner ship with
India or China branches.

So now the “old” big guys sell hire the “old style” consultancy from Chen or Kim or Bhavamanyu, wrap up with their brands and sell  “peculiar-plenty-of-bugs” solutions to the operators.

What about operators need of consultancy? Well, now Alcatel Lucent, or Nokia Siemens, or Ericsson, are happy to send their people sitting in operators premises, as consultants.

This means that for consulting firms, not only the pie is smaller, but the slice is thinner too.
Getting thinner everyday.
Now the Ericsson/Nokia etc… problem in 2001 as become big Consulting firms problem in 2010.
Too big, too skilled and too expensive.
“Globalization effect” alternatives are big, “dumb” and chip solutions.
Is there any room for something different?
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