The late and great Douglas Adams,  author of the The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide said:

“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.”

Our world seems to be too full of analysts and consultants offering advice based on theory and supposition, rather than hard won experience.  It is interesting that there are several companies springing up who are tapping into the true experts and linking them up with their clients who need proven, practical advice. This is either in bite sized insights of less than 3 minutes or as a one-to-one on the phone in less than an hour.

I have flattered to have been asked to provide my insights, alongside a number of experts such as Guy Kawasaki, Joel Comm, Tom Peters. It was great fun sitting in the recording studio, but was also a good discipline to keep each insight tight and focused in under 2-3 minutes.  The insights will be published in a mobile application that is launching in the new year. It is currently in stealth, so my lips are sealed.

But just recently I have also been asked to give advice, analyst-style, in one-on-ones on the phone. What is most interesting, apart from the discussions with clients, is how slick and automated the process is; from initial enquiry about the engagement through to a check hitting my mailbox. Suddenly the company can manage 1,000s of experts and connect them with clients – at scale.

Which leads me to the “longer form advice”; management consulting. It is not dead. In fact as more companies are having their industries disrupted  by cloud, social, mobile and big data they are having to rethink their entire business models. And that is where a consulting firm can help give an external perspective. But clients do not want a fresh-faced MBA in an expensive suit.The classic consultants joke is that “they know a 1000 ways to make love but don’t have a girlfriend.”  

Clients  demand both strong business skills and an understanding of the potential of cloud, social, mobile and big data when applied to their situation. That is a rare combination – the gray hairs of a 50 year old with a 20 year old’s grasp of technology and entrepreneurial energy.

The challenge for all of us – analysts, advisors and companies – is the same. Staying relevant.


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