What is a consultant anyway?

The definition of a consultant from a bad joke is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time and often keeps the watch.  I feel that I may be a bad consultant, as even in my maturing years I’ve struggled with the analogue watch for some time.  I’d hand it back to you if it wasn’t a fitness tracker.

It isn’t that I don’t know how an analogue clock works.  Anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s has been subjected to the end of the analogue world and the start of the digital world.  I do have a nice German cuckoo clock in my kitchen that has pride of place, I’d look down at my phone or ask Alexa before regressing to my primary school teachings.

I was undoubtedly one of those kids who developed a passion, if not obsession for the digital world before everyone else.  It has taken me on an especially important journey in my life both professionally and personally.

I’ve spent years hiding my analogue phobia, especially when it comes to clocks.  Although recently, I’ve realised that it’s more a sign of my strength in the digital world than any particular weakness I have in the analogue one.

The work me and my company does is really to forget about analogue ways of working.   And, in many respects, how companies pretend to go digital by just replicating what they did on paper in spreadsheets and email forwarding.  Papering over the cracks of their lack of a full transition to the digital world.

I have a great appreciation for my cuckoo clock, it was a wedding gift from my Uncle, I absolutely love it.  It’s not a great time keeper, it tends to cuckoo at inopportune times during calls and important family discussions and it eats batteries instead of bird seed!

Having an appreciation for an analogue device is like having an appreciation for a steam engine.  They’re beautiful machines, part of our heritage, but we should only need understand how they have taken us on a journey from the past to the present and how they’ll propel us into the future.

We should have an appreciation for pen and paper, typewriters, word processors, printing calculators, companywide memo’s and email.  However, times move quickly.

I don’t use my smartwatch or phone to just tell the time, I wouldn’t drive an electric car the same way as a traction engine.  Innovations can quite often just seem iterative.  Something that is only marginally different to what you did before.  With some sort of marginal gain.  Some people and businesses are happy with that slight improvement, say the job is done and leave it as that.

What this consultant does is look a bit more deeply at how technology and ways of working come together.  Quite often people are wedded to the way they were doing things, rather than how.  They can maybe make the transition from paper to a computer pretty well.  A form on paper isn’t all that different to a form on PDF, Word or Excel.   If you’re an avid memo writer, you must have absolutely loved the transition to email and the joy of the CC and BCC boxes!  Although, they’re not all that different other than the ease of doing it.

Why you may need a consultant

The truest, most powerful changes begin when you utilise the digital technology to do something that isn’t an iteration of what has been before, but something quite different exploiting the capability of the tools you have in front of you. Capabilities, that you may not even be aware of.

In my digital upbringing I’ve seen the buzzwords come and go, although I miss certain things like ‘The Information Age’ and ‘The Information Superhighway’.  They’re not particularly informative, but we’ve forgotten that IT is called Information Technology, we all obsess about Technology and forget it’s the Information which was the important bit!

Business technology should only be there for one purpose only, to take raw data and turn it into valuable business information.  Information that managers can make informed decisions with for the benefit of the organisation.  The quicker, more automated that process is, the more effective you are against your competitors.

In many instances changing the processes of how things are done with your technology offers greater performance gains than simply upgrading your technology.

For me, I don’t look at my watch to tell the time anymore – I’ve got a dozen other devices that do that.  My process has changed.  I’m more interested in my health stats when I look at my wrist.  If I’m looking for information about my body, why wouldn’t I look at something that’s warn on it?   To me, it’s become almost silly to look at my wrist for the time instead of my step count!

Here at Unleashed, we’ll let you keep your watch!  We’ll ask for the time if we need it, Alexa’s usually in ear shot anyway.  What we’re really interested in is hearing how you use technology in your business and how we can help improve your processes and interactions with it.   Simply get in touch here to start that process!