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#186: How Consultants Can Compete With Free Information

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 30, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, December 01, 2009
How do I respond when prospects (or clients) tell me that they don't want to pay for my services because they can get most of it for free on the Internet? With powerful research results, templates, and analytical applications available, some of which I use in my work, I can understand their argument.

It is true that both information and analytics are available for free or nearly free. Also, available are decision engines, business planning software and powerful searchable databases. However, don't lose sight of the differences between data, information and knowledge. I can get anatomy texts, equipment and a facility but that doesn't mean I should be doing surgery. The ability to assemble and process data is only a minor part of our value as consultants. That value comes from being able to differentiate between good data and bad, turn data into information and create knowledge through use of that information. Information may be more freely available these days, but turning that into usable knowledge requires the value added experience, judgment and objectivity of a consultant.

Tip: Experts occupy a region between rule-based systems and the wisdom of crowds. Although the rule based systems, even neural network systems, and information aggregation systems, like crowdsourcing and open betting systems, are expanding in their application to business problems, there is still a lot of space available for consultants. That said, your value increases with your awareness of, knowledge about and experience using these tools. For example, learn about the use of decision support tools like those available from Palisade Corporation.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USAinformation may be free but knowledge isn't

Tags:  consultant role  knowledge management 

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