For many companies – being on social media is a waste of time and money

It’s implied right there in the name – social media. Not anti-social media. Social media. The point and benefit of social media for individuals and businesses is the opportunity to interact with other people.

For individuals there are amazing sources of insight, information and inspiration available. Even at its most basic it is a brilliant way to stay in touch with family and friends as well as find people with similar interests – and often opposing views.

For businesses the real value comes from the ability to interact personally with current and potential customers. We’ve all heard the great stories of a brand taking the time to interact and have fun with their customers (Tesco, Yorkshire Tea, Jaffa cakes – being a great example – link). These are extreme examples – as great as they are – but there are lots of companies doing simple things that really make a difference to their customers.

The problem is that there are loads more that are doing it poorly. Having the presence is only a small part of the battle. Actually being able to respond to an interaction from a customer is where the action is. Same goes for individuals – if you’re not going to engage why be there?

The insights you can get as well as the good will you can build with customer are outstanding. While many will argue that it is very difficult to tie social media activity to real business outcomes I would apply a very simple test. Imagine two scenarios.

1. You tweet a question to a company on Twitter – no response.

2. You tweet a company on Twitter and get a response.

You don’t need to be a genius to know which one you would prefer or which one makes you feel positive about the brand. Of course we can argue about the quality and timeliness of the response – these are givens. And yes it will take some investment. No different to an experience at a counter or over the phone.

Personally, I would rather a company wasn’t on social media rather than be on there and be anti-social.

Unpacked Episode 3 – Consulting and Operating model

The latest episode (Ep 3) of Dean Pribetic’s and my podcast – Unpacked – is up  and ready for downloading. In Episode 3, we explore one of the most nebulous terms in the language of business – ‘Operating Model’. We discuss the seemingly interchangeable definitions and we also discuss the real matter at hand – what is Consulting? How do we define this work? And what is it that we actually do? The episode can be downloaded here – Episode 3 or on iTunes – just search for “unpacked”. Dean also mentions a book titled “How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built” – by Stewart Brand – which is a great read.  The book can purchased here through Amazon.

We would love your feedback through the website – and we would love you to rate it on iTunes. You can also get to us on twitter at @unpackedfm. You can find Dean at @deanpribetic and I am at @jamessaretta. We hope you enjoy it!


Unpacked – a new podcast demystifying the language of business

Anyone who has read any of the post on here will now that I’m a big fan of simplifying things. Those who have worked with me will say that I sometimes go too far.

Language is a big favourite which I wrote about in an earlier post (“Perhaps if we change the language” – Sep 2012). To try and pursue the topic of language even further a dear friend of mine – Dean Pribetic – and I have launched a new podcast. UNPACKED is our attempt at trying to unravel some of the terms that we all throw around in business. Sometimes without really understanding them, and often not using them correctly. It’s also our chance to have a bit of fun and talk about some of the things that interest us and make us laugh.

Dean is one of the best thinkers and facilitators I know. We worked together for a number of years and to this day can often be found debating some random topic from the business of language or how Sons of Anarchy went quickly downhill after season 5.

We are two episodes in and would welcome your feedback as we hopefully learn and improve how to podcast! You can find the podcasts at, or search for “unpacked” on iTunes. You can also follow us on twitter @unpackedFM. We would love to hear from you on topics that you might like covered or just feedback on the podcast. Enjoy!

Consulting….it needs to change… for the better

Gone are the days of consulting firms having the market cornered on solving a client’s issues.

After almost 20 years in consulting and having worked across almost every industry I’ve come to realise that the consulting industry is about to undergo it’s most significant change. Or at least it needs to. It’s not dead by any means, but it is about to be tested. I first thought this was 10 plus years away but like most things today it’s all moving a bit quicker.

In the early 2000’s most consulting companies shed staff at a great rate of knots. The firm I worked for went from almost 700 to 180 pretty much overnight. Most of those people went in to industry. They became the worst buyers of consulting services because they knew what we did and how we did it. And to be honest they didn’t need us to answer their tough questions. They could do that themselves.

Luckily the complexity of business is ever increasing. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves – that’s a topic for another post on another day. And as a result consultants were back again. Whether it was cost reduction, innovation, digital strategy, globalisation, or more recently the “enormous” challenge of social media, they needed us again.

But there is a new generation of buyer and a new generation of problems. And as a result a new generation of thinking required to solve those problems. Very few of today’s traditional consulting firms have the capability or the business model to help clients deal with today’s business problems. They are slow. They overcharge. They think about their clients’ issues the same way they always have. Clients use them for their brand but at the same time resent having to use them. The traditional firms will live. But they will be marginalised to the work that needs to get done but really doesn’t challenge a client’s business. The interesting work will go elsewhere. That mean that the smart kids will go elsewhere. So the interesting work will go elsewhere. So the smart kids will go elsewhere… get the idea.

Their challenge is to stay relevant. And to do that they need to challenge their own model. Daily rates have to go. Firms need to start pricing for value. But that’s not news. The real change is how they harness capability. Consulting firms will no longer be able to house all the capability required to meet their clients’ demands. Business is moving too quickly. Technology is changing too quickly.

The real value will come from playing a major role in a network of capability. The way to stay responsive to the changing landscape is not to go through the long drawn out task of building or buying new capability. Rather firms need to foster and engage with networks where they can tap in to capability when they need it. From specific technical skills to more abstract areas like design and creative skills. Sometimes it will be with a smaller firm. Sometimes with one or more individuals. Some relationships in the network will be formalised while others will be form and disband as required. Some of today’s freelancer e-markets may provide a start.

Tapping in to these networks and fostering them will allow the traditional firms to respond quickly to changing markets, while meeting the specific needs of their clients. It will give them the ability to offer more interesting and varied work to their staff and the opportunity to quickly develop new skills. Which in the long run might just help them corner the market once more.