Most traditional innovation models failed to deliver meaningful outcomes in the era of digital acceleration. Today's digital “survival of the fittest” calls for a new type of partner – with a unique combination of entrepreneurial, tech and consulting skills.
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked.” This quote, attributed to Warren Buffet, illustrates the situation when a stock market crashes, leaving unprepared investors with losses.
Interestingly enough, this quote perfectly sums up most of the innovation efforts by the majority of the consulting agencies and large corporations.
To be fair, the depth and breadth of the recent changes have been unlike anything we saw before. We’ve witnessed the rise of new business models, new consumer engagement models, new paths-to-purchase. At the same time, we’ve seen how digital commerce and marketing channels we’d always taken for granted have been quickly becoming obsolete.
But the lack of preparedness to react adequately has become far too obvious. As we are living in an increasingly digital world, I encourage any aspiring brand to question whether they seek strategic advice, delivery craftsmanship and digital acumen in the right places.
I believe that corporate innovation evolved to a point where a new, different type of strategic consulting firm is required: one that is able to act fast and see the whole of the playing field.
How does this new partner help today's top brands remain relevant tomorrow? Before I lay out a more detailed outlook, let me take a step back for a moment. I would like to explain why the traditional models are no longer adequate and what needs to be fixed in today’s consulting industry.
The Old World Meets Digital Acceleration
Up until recently, at least three different external actors were involved in any innovation venture:
- a consulting firm led a many-months-long process to identify and shape the idea, which inevitably resulted in a PowerPoint presentation;
- the project was the handed over to a design firm, which would create mockups;
- in the end, the mocks would be taken over by a software development agency to build the thing.
The result was more time, higher costs, a loss of transparency and an endless cycle of experimentation that did not scale. Out of the multiple issues with this approach, the time factor seems to be the most absurd today – you can build an MVP and validate the idea in the same amount of time that was once needed to deliver a presentation.
Luckily, this old world is already gone. Major consulting firms have understood their innovation frameworks are often too far from what businesses need to grow in this day and age. They’ve rushed to acquire small innovation agencies, invest heavily to get up to speed, fill tech capability gaps, and embrace the lean model.
Has it worked? To some extent. We’ve observed increased speed and agility of consultants, but the old mindset prevails, anyway: the industry is still struggling with efficiency and building things in silos. It’s only reasonable to expect that we can overcome this by offering end-to-end support, cutting out unnecessary middlemen from the process.
It’s the mindset shift that plays the key part. The future of consulting lies in (a) proactively helping clients to set forward-looking strategies, not only in implementing existing solutions; and (b) translating threats from emerging technologies and startups into a new competitive advantage.
Practice What You Preach
A few years ago, it was easy to provide recommendations, because it was someone else's job to put things in motion. We’ve seen it too: pitches for innovative projects that looked perfect on paper (or PowerPoint!), only to be torn apart by a team designated to develop it, and the process turned to a blame game.
Instead of innovation, companies were getting just the opposite: a waste of an enormous amount of resources, people getting frustrated, budgets being spent on not thought-through ideas. In the best case scenario, a working product would be launched on time; rare cases included the parallel development of new business models, new consumer experiences, new go-to-market strategies, new channels, and more.
This world needs to be gone, too. The tech consulting industry alone is valued at $53.67B globally. We need to be held accountable for ideas and recommendations. Clients need a trusted partner, who has already explored alternatives, is skilled with an iterative approach, and knows how to avoid going into a dead end in projects.
While the old, distributed model couldn’t guarantee this kind of cooperation, the clients will soon take it for granted, and rightfully so.
This is yet another argument in favor of the one-stop shop model. Contrary to the popular myth of vendor lock-in, a one-stop shop puts the pace of delivery in the consulting firm’s best interest. It affects the whole process, as the firm knows from the very beginning that they are responsible for delivering the final idea.
Having top market insights, running an in-depth delivery workshop with the client, prototyping and validating the idea, designing and running a pilot, creating a compelling yet accessible UX, developing a stable product, building a roadmap based on market feedback, growing the product – all these factors play in favor of the vendor, who needs to be more entrepreneurial than ever before, and succeeds only if the client does so.
The Future of Strategy Consulting and What Netguru Has to Offer
If today's top brands wish to remain relevant tomorrow, they need an outside-in perspective and a new type of partner: one that is able to act fast and see the whole of the playing field.
Today’s rapid pace of digital disruption combined with a hyper-focus on growth acceleration has created the demand for a new type of strategic innovation consultancy.
This need is why Netguru invested in Pilot44, one of America’s most trusted corporate innovation studios, which has worked on projects for such companies as P&G, Pepsi, Diageo, Sanofi, Nestle, Kelloggs, and Red Bull.
Together with Pilot44, we’re combining our deep digital acumen with a future-of strategy consulting and venture-building capabilities, bridging traditionally disparate innovation services under one roof.
We endeavor to be a partner that can cover every aspect of the innovation funnel, building and implementing complete businesses across the following areas:
- Proposition development
- Concept design & prototyping
- Consumer research (qual/quant)
- In-market validation
- Brand strategy & identity (visual & verbal)
- Digital experience (application) design & development
- Commercialization strategies
- Technical & operational implementation and support
- Go-to-market strategy & in-market incubation
- Growth marketing & omni-channel strategies
I’m excited by what this new collaboration can bring to our current and future clients.