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There are a couple of really smart consulting companies I’ve been following for a few years: The Altimeter Group and Dachis Group. The latter gave birth to a concept called “social business design” and the former more recently codified a similar practice they call “social business.”

Following Dachis Group from a far, it was my view that they should monetize by selling software.  Build it once, charge forever. Consult regarding the need for a new, more efficient way to do business then sell proprietary software that enables it. This approach is one with which Accenture’s has had great success.

Altimeter, on the other hand, is all about the consults and the hourlies. When you don’t have to push your own product, it appears cleaner to customers. Selling knowledge and providing the groundwork for companies to heal themselves is viable and healthy.

There is room for both approaches and each company has a long list of blue chip clients. Today in this very digital world there is enough pie to go around.

Because marketing is at the center of all things business and because brands are the drivers of what is marketed, there is big room at the table for brand planning. (You saw that one coming.)  In fact, social business without brand planning can sometimes be little more than a loose federation of processes, tools and measures.  Organizing everything with a principle that sells more, to more, for more, more often is the last mile of social business.  Peace.

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Solutions for a smarter planet is IBM’s ad campaign and has been for couple of years. If you watch the TV the message is clear: Look at data more closely, do something smart with it and we will see a better planet. The TV ads suggest (methinks) more efficient energy consumption in cities, better food prices thanks to global climate monitoring, etc.

The print, on the other hand, gets much more granular with lots of tech copy with promises of improvements in healthcare, manufacturing, blah, blah.  Half pretty to look at, with buried datapoints to prove the stories, the campaign’s real goal is to seed the “solutions for a smarter planet” idea.

Earnings Reports

So (the digerati all start their sentences with “so”), I’m reading the business section today and notice that Oracle and Accenture sales and profits are up. Oracle shares are near a 10-year high. Businesses are spending again the article proclaims. Then I read another story suggesting General Mills profits are down. The culprit?  Higher commodity prices and aggressive discounting. Are those not things a smarter planet is supposed to address? 

So what’s what? Machines are selling again. Database software is selling again. We are ensconced in datapalooza yet not really affecting the supply chain the way we might. In other words, we’re not doing “something smart” with the data yet. Similarly, Radian6 has built a great business allowing companies to monitor conversations in the ether. But unless listeners do something smart with that info, they won’t have smarter companies. That’s the way to a smarter planet. Even hunter gatherers know to eat what they gather (something smart).  Dial up the machines, dial up the software but let’s invest in some people smarts ya’ll!  Peace!

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HP. Beep-beep.

 

Hewlett-Packard’s purchase of EDS is beginning to make sense to me. The NY Times announced today that HP’s ProCurve corporate networking hardware unit is beginning to eat up some of Cisco System’s marketshare, albeit still with a long way to go (7% HP, 77% Cisco.)   It seems the EDS group may just act as a great sales conduit between its services customers and HP’s ProCurve networking gear. Services people, in order to be good, must really understand business and process and when they do it puts them in great position to recommend product. Accenture has made boat loads of money selling its own software recommended by its services people, why can’t HP can do the same?

Before Mark Hurd took over, HP was resting on laurels and ink cartridges. Its PC business was doing okay, but the company was quite sluggish. Carly Fiorina did not really understand the computer and peripherals business. HP just reported flat quarterly net income, but a revenue increase of 19%. In today’s economy? What does that tell you? It says “beep beep, company moving forward.”


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