I have lots of friends who consult businesses, write books or both. I try to avoid recommending any of them because favoring one will get me in trouble with the others. The last time I made exception to the rule was when author-consultant Charlene Li 's first book, Groundswell came out. I said she had co-authored a watershed book, in Groundswell and in that particular case, I seem to have called it right.
In expanding her year-old new technology consultancy Altimeter Group to include three accomplished and talented colleagues: online customer and social media strategist Jeremiah Owyang, marketing and innovation pioneer Deborah Schultz and enterprise application expert Ray Wang, she has transformed her home office practice into something that also may be watershed.
An "altimeter," by definition, measure how high something can fly, and the group will help global enterprise organizations do precisely that in areas of new technologies, particularly social media. There is an open source feel to their approach in that they will serve sort of as a "core four." When and as needed they will bring in other experts for projects.
The geo center of this global operation will be in spaces they have rented in San Mateo they have dubbed, "The Hangar," which extends the Altimeter metaphor. The hanger is where you design and construct objects that take off.
With the exception of Deb Schultz, three members have their roots as Forrester Group analysts and I found it very interesting that Altimeter's press announcement there was an apparent avoidance of the word "analyst." I asked Owyang about it. "We don't provide syndicated research," which has historically been the gravy section of traditional analyst firms.
I imagine that gravy has been thinning in recent years. I interviewed James Governor in Twitterville, who is co-founder of Redmonk, another next-generation, four-person firm, that also eschews analyst reports.
It seems the value of these reports has continued to erode. Fifteen years ago, a typical report cost $10,000 and upwards. Now you can get them for $500. The problem is that most of the data contained in them is available for free online.
I think Altimeter and Redmonk are examples of a next-generation consultancy model. Instead of making money by selling proprietary data, these firms are sharing their data and selling their ability to assemble dynamic expertise to companies who are going to need it if they are to successfully navigate the road to recovery.