I read with interest the recent series Why Management Consulting Will Be Disrupted by one of our collaborators, Jay Deragon. The thesis is that digitization brought on by technology, the internet and social media will challenge the business model of traditional management consulting practices.
Below are some thoughts on key trends affecting the industry and how our community and movement at Smarter-Companies is aiming to capitalize on them. I share them in the hope that you will critique them and/or consider joining us in imagining what consulting organizations of the future can and should be
- New ways to access talent – oDesk was an example cited in the series of how companies don’t have to go through a management consulting firm to access specialized outside talent. This is a significant feature of the digital economy: people can find and connect with other people to an extent unprecedented in human history. At Smarter Companies we’re building a network of independent ICountants who specialize in identifying, measuring and visualizing intangible capital improvement opportunities.
- New ways to access tools – Digitization has made it easier to create re-usable tools for synthesizing data and knowledge. We predicted in our book Intangible Capital that management consultants will increasingly use standardized assessment tools for diagnosis of companies. It just makes sense. If you find a successful way to do a task, you can and should digitize it, make it re-usable. We have digital tools at Smarter-Companies including our ICounts Graphs assessment platform. But we also believe that no business or consultant will use just one tool so we figure that we might as well help consultants and companies understand what’s out there so we also have the beginnings of a marketplace that features tools from other companies.
- New ways to access information –One of the big changes brought about by the internet and social technologies is the increase in the amount and direction of the flow of information. Social technologies make it easier for everyone (employees, customers, partners, stakeholders and, yes, managers) to share ideas and opinions. That means that information doesn’t just flow from the top of an organization down. It also can and should flow from the bottom up and the outside in. This is really healthy. It can be the source of feedback and new ideas. Used correctly, this turns into new innovations, better performance and increased alignment across the full ecosystem of an organization. That’s why our measurement systems at Smarter-Companies are based on using stakeholder feedback as the ultimate leading indicator of sustainable success and profits.
- New way of looking at organizations – One of the huge consequences of the digitization revolution is the rise in the importance of intangible versus tangible assets. Tangibles, including hardware and equipment, will always be part of our economy. But owning a tangible asset is rarely in itself a source of competitive advantage—that comes from access to (not necessarily ownership of) know-how, data, people, partners and knowledge. The creation and use of intangible assets like these is the focus of the digital economy. Smarter-Companies’ tools are focused on identifying, visualizing and measuring intangible capital.
Our tools are largely open source and freely available on our website. Our mission and business model are simple:
- train people who want a deeper expertise within the subject of intangible capital
- provide a platform that facilitates identification, measurement and visualization of intangible capital
- provide a marketplace for consultants to share additional value added products and services with each other and with businesses.
- provide a global community for participants (currently 530) to contribute ideas, post events, papers, news, organize on-line seminars or “hangouts” and contribute to a growing library of reference materials.
- share the intangible value of our community, marketplace, members and message with media outlets from around the world
We believe these are the next generation of management consulting practices. Do you agree? I hope you will add to the current practices, and learn to create even more value for your clients by becoming a smarter company.
Be the Disruption!