There are a couple of really smart consulting companies I’ve been following for a few years: The Altimeter Group and Dachis Group. The latter gave birth to a concept called “social business design” and the former more recently codified a similar practice they call “social business.”
Following Dachis Group from a far, it was my view that they should monetize by selling software. Build it once, charge forever. Consult regarding the need for a new, more efficient way to do business then sell proprietary software that enables it. This approach is one with which Accenture’s has had great success.
Altimeter, on the other hand, is all about the consults and the hourlies. When you don’t have to push your own product, it appears cleaner to customers. Selling knowledge and providing the groundwork for companies to heal themselves is viable and healthy.
There is room for both approaches and each company has a long list of blue chip clients. Today in this very digital world there is enough pie to go around.
Because marketing is at the center of all things business and because brands are the drivers of what is marketed, there is big room at the table for brand planning. (You saw that one coming.) In fact, social business without brand planning can sometimes be little more than a loose federation of processes, tools and measures. Organizing everything with a principle that sells more, to more, for more, more often is the last mile of social business. Peace.