Input moves into IT consulting
Firm known for its subscription databases hires high-profile former feds as consultants
- By John Moore
- Apr 03, 2006
Input’s spate of high-profile new hires demonstrates the company’s drive to earn a reputation for more than providing market data. The newest additions include David Borland, former deputy chief information officer of the Army, who joined the firm’s advisory service, the Input Consulting Group, March 1. The company also named William Bain as senior vice president of consulting. Bain, a former Gartner consultant, most recently served as vice president of management consulting at Exeter Government Services.
Other recent Input hires include Bruce Brody, who served in information security leadership roles at the Energy and Veterans Affairs departments, and Paul Schmitz, who was federal-sector vice president of Gartner’s Executive Program. Brody leads Input’s information security consulting practice. Schmitz runs the Input Executive Program, which assists organizations with sales, marketing and business development.
Alan Balutis, president and chief executive officer of government strategies at Input, described the wave of executive recruitment as part of the company’s evolution from being a database firm to becoming a provider of information and market intelligence.
Input is known mostly for its databases, which contain contracting opportunities, agency spending figures and vendor profiles. “The database subscriptions have been and will remain the bread and butter of the firm, but I think this makes us more helpful as a business partner,” Balutis said. Consulting services place Input’s data “in a broader and richer context,” he added.
Input’s new consulting focus represents the company’s effort to differentiate itself in the market, according to others in the industry. “I think the database [business] has become almost a commodity,” said J.P. Richard, vice president of Advantage Consulting, a business development training and consulting firm.
Input, Federal Sources and Epipeline all offer similar products, Richard said. “Input felt they had to go the consulting route,” he said.
“They are trying to move up the value chain,” said Bob Lohfeld, founder of Lohfeld Consulting Group, a management consulting firm. Lohfeld’s firm maintained a service provider partnership with Input, but the companies recently ended that arrangement, in part “because Input is trying to move into a space similar to ours.”
Lohfeld said Input’s transformation into a value-added player will be difficult. “It’s difficult because the vast majority of the company — and the company’s infrastructure — is geared toward providing the commodity services,” he added.
But Balutis said he sees the shift to consulting as a logical progression for the company. Input’s expanded consulting capabilities have already attracted new customers, including companies wanting to tap Brody’s information security experience, he said.
Input also views consulting as a service it can sell to its existing database subscribers. For example, companies new to the federal market may “need some consulting assistance before they can make use of the database properly,” Balutis said. Such companies need to make decisions about business plans, market focus and whether to pursue business as a prime contractor or subcontractor, he noted. A consulting engagement can help them get their bearings.
Bain, Schmitz and Brody work for Input as full-time employees, while Borland and the other members of the company’s consulting arm work with Input as associates, Balutis said. The consultants work on specific consulting projects related to their areas of experience and expertise.
Looking ahead, Balutis identified the state and local government sector as an important growth opportunity, noting that revenue growth in that sector is projected to outpace the federal market.