Friday, May 4, 2007

A Tale of Two Business Models

Human Resource Executive recently announced its best of the web including Blog's. HR & Benefits professionals working for employers routinely go to the web for rich content.

In contrast recently posted a poll on its website concerning blogs as a customer interaction/attraction tool with the following results.

  • 97% of respondents do not read any blogs regularly.
  • Only 3% of respondents write a blog and 5% were thinking about it.
  • 19% of respondents indicated writing a blog had never crossed their mind
Now technology always out pace's pure science but in the era of Google and You Tube it is truly amazing to me so few purportedly independent benefit advisers can go about their business oblivious to all the rich content which is out there in the blogosphere just waiting to be surfed. Yet it does not really surprise me.

Several close friends have asked me why would you want to write a blog and let everyone else know what you think. Well thats easy--most competitors do not even read blogs as evidenced by the poll above.

Several consultants have asked me if the blog has brought in any new business and in that question lies some useful insight into the fundamental problems associated with many consulting and broker business models; There is simply no time for anything but billable hours or achieving revenue growth objectives at too many firms. To focus any energy on ideas with application for employers is the role of the firms thought leaders and the employees job is to sell or bill hours, or spend face time with your key accounts. The firm can produce powerpoint presentations and practice leaders on any number of technical subjects but the average employee interfacing with an employer is often incapable of thought leadership in many fields related to benefits. The firms thought leaders speak to the employees in the same outdated manner Judge Smails used in Caddyshack--"The world needs ditchdiggers too". When top talent is needed at executive levels they buy it or acquire it externally.This business model has outlived its usefulness.

Yet there is a new business model better suited to the information age which can be characterized by the values which guide our interactions with employer clients.

  1. Client relationships rooted in performance over time are primary and revenue is simply a product of a job well done. It is secondary.
  2. Seeking out best in class professionals precludes using just a single firm for all advice.
  3. Providing opinions and counsel in real-time via access to Principals.
  4. Putting ideas rooted in practical experience into the Blogosphere for employers seeking answers.
  5. Aligning specific employer objectives with plan designs and vendors capable of achieving measurable results.
For the life of me I do not see how any professional intermediary could ignore the blogosphere and remain current on the best ideas available. But hey, thats just me and Judge Smails always struck me as a comic figure.

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