Towards More Sustainable CRM Consulting

Every day at least a hundred thousand consultants worldwide find their way to their client’s offices. Most of them drive their luxury cars there, some might even fly. This long line of wheels contributes to high carbon emissions and global warming. Once arrived at these offices, they dedicate themselves fully to drafting their project planning. But then, after the client meeting these reports are never looked at again, even though whole rain forests had been cut down to produce the paper needed to print them on.

With every client the consultant gathers more knowledge. Knowledge that will never be shared. Simply because it is not in the interest of the companies the consultants are working for to truly share any knowledge. Because these companies bill their clients by the hour and not by results delivered. So why should they bother to reuse any insights to actually better serve the client? After all, it’s better for their bosses’ wallets to spend as many hours possible on an assignment. So they just keep on reinventing the same wheel over and over again…

It is clear to me: the CRM consulting industry as we know it is one of the least sustainable industries. There is hardly any reuse of resources that aren’t considered to be scarce at all, be it people or provided by the planet.

A New Reality

Obviously, the start of this article is lacking nuance and might come across as  tendentious. But please be assured that it is not my intention to discredit the consulting industry in general, or to disregard its benefits for economy and society. I do see, however, an opportunity to change the way advice is delivered in a more sustainable way, more in line with the way other resources, like data and computing capacity are shared in the cloud today.

In the last fifteen years the general availability of broadband internet has brought dramatic changes to the business world. These changes are most visible in three areas:

  • Software applications are increasingly deployed as cloud solutions;
  • The available options for data sharing have made employees independent from locations and devices;
  • Customers are expecting higher service levels, are better informed and interact online.

But, the way that consulting services are delivered has hardly changed in the last thirty years. If the consulting industry will not start to change towards a more sustainable delivery model, aligned with the trends regarding social and cloud, it will find itself fighting a losing battle.

The opportunities for change that I see include:

  • Delivery of services online (consulting-as-a-service);
  • Development of productized tools replacing one-off, one-on-one consults;
  • Replacing large scale project focus with an agile expertise-on-demand model.

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