The Commoditization of Consulting was round one.
That was June of 2012. I would say it has gotten worse since then.
- Clients believe consultants are all offering the same thing.
- Clients think if that is the case then they can probably do it themselves.
- The thing (say a specific service) becomes ingrained internally and so is no longer needed as an external service (except in a contracting scenario-contractors usually deliver commodities).
Contrast that process to Ben Broeckx’s Exploring the Black Box Blog, “From the Other Side of the Table- the (de)Commoditization of Consulting”. Ben, a consultant turned client, has a refreshing take on the need to de-commoditize certain kinds of consulting. He thinks commoditization erodes quality. Agreement from this consultant (thankfully I have gained revenue as a result). He also thinks consultants force commoditization on themselves (in contrast to the other blog post which pins the process on the client).
Ben’s best line:
“… because as a consultant you may not understand this, but hard selling profiles a business as a commodity.”
There is a LOT of hard sell of models out there. The “consultant” (those are commoditization bunny ears) is just the vessel to check the boxes.
- The clients are right. Many “consultants” (darn those bunny ears if you are one of these) ARE offering the same thing. If there is a model attached and the firm/person offering is excited you asked- sniff, smell commodity?
- If the clients just intended to check some boxes, yes they could do it themselves. If learning, introspection and experience are neccesary then NO they likely CAN’T do it themselves. (Been there, seen that, helped correct and make up for the internal commoditization of consulting).
- Let’s use CM as an example: been around for a good 10+ years, plus it was OD before and there is probably some new name for it in the future. Lots of things make it virtually impossible to truly have the right competencies within. Which is why some version of CM will be around for a long time.
In general a consultant who works hard to avoid commoditization will be available and able to consult. They will be more expensive and should be. But the hidden savings they bring are worth the upfront cost (versus the actual longer term cost of bad quality delivery and service that you get with the Cheap Commodity Consultant [there took away the bunny ears by giving those people a title]).
Most of those Commodity Consultants come in packs. Just because there are more bodies does not mean it is more efficient, longer lasting or effective.
In the middle of this mix there is a distinct spot(s) for independent consultants. Clients, with that choice you avoid number 1, get help with number 2 and come as close as is possible to number 3. (You can always bring that consultant back for the next program when you see 3 is very hard to attain).