When Tim and I set up Digital Leadership Associates we had a dream. We both said, independently, “I want to change the world”…and we will.
We have made amazing progress so far as we are currently working with (or about to work with) some of the world’s biggest organisations, household names…amazing really for a start up with only a handful of staff (albeit a handful of the most talented people in the world).
So, from the outset we knew that we would have to find a mechanism to add scale to our offering, a partner that would be able to white-label our IP and techniques to be able to transform the largest of companies. So we have spoken to some of the most prestigious and highly regarded management consultancies there are and we were having particular discussions with one of them and the conversations went from hopeful…to very hopeful…to striking terror and anger in to my heart. Because eventually it transpired that they were not interested in “eating their own dog food” with respect to how they they use social themselves. The internal “social stars” were individuals that had in a few cases “passable” profiles, in some cases “mediocre” ones but in most cases downright “poor” profiles. As a company they have almost no engagement, almost no amplification and absolutely no long-term strategy behind their own social presence.
I’m not going to name them but I am going to explain why I was upset by these revelations…and why this is a worrying trend…and why they of all people should know better.
Our initial conversation led to them admitting that they had “no idea” about social and how this should be deployed within the enterprise transformational space. In fairness to them, none of the large consultancies have really got a clue about this because, despite the fact that they say “yes we can socialise your organisation”, they can’t because they have no experience and no desire to invest the effort in developing these programmes because they represent a very small part of their overall digital transformation revenue and they have no appetite to change this and deliver social transformation. “Why” you might be asking!
Well, it seems that most of these big players have built large and successful businesses that achieve great results for their clients based in “inward” digital transformation. By this I mean that they are brilliant…and I do mean that they are outstanding at using digital transformation to improve efficiencies and save their clients money but largely they’re not very good at increasing their client’s revenues. ERP, EPM, HCM (for those of you who don’t speak this language, that’s Enterprise Resource Planning, Enterprise Performance Management and Human Capital Management) and Supply Chain are areas where these guys can drive significant change and make a massive bottom line benefit but the problem with this line of attack is that they are working with a finite opportunity size. If a business spends $1bn per year and they can make a 20% saving on that it’s a $200m benefit. The problem is though that any inward change is by it’s nature limited by the amount of expenditure – even a 100% saving (clearly impossible) only nets a $1bn revenue enhancement whereas an outward focused transformation is limitless! $2bn in sales can be increased to $4bn or $40bn…there is no limit.
Now, you may be thinking that a 20% saving would be a great thing to achieve, but in a world of digital disruption it simply isn’t enough any more. AirBnB have come from nowhere to challenge Hilton, Accor and every other hotel chain. Uber have challenged the very need to even own a car in some cities and now they’re moving in to delivery services too. Apple Music decimated the record industry. Barnes and Noble, Nokia, Blockbuster…the list is endless. Time and time again we see whole industries swept away not by more competitive offerings, not by increases in efficiency, but by wholesale transformations powered…by yes…you guessed it…social media!
The large consultancies know this. They really KNOW it. They run “innovation” hubs and “blue sky thinking” workshops for their clients, but they themselves do nothing but pay lip service to this transformation. They ask their clients to take risks, think big and burn barriers, but they themselves are scared to do it because they are terrified of making a mistake.
So I ask you, if they cannot transform themselves how can they possibly advise or shepherd their client through this process?
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