All change please.

by Katie Gibbs | 3 mins read

Blending technology with human expertise, a new breed of consultancy is helping overcome the old and lazy ways of working, says Katie Swannell-Gibbs, Global Head of Consulting at Cognition.

Not everyone loves consultancies. Some of the bigger, more established agencies have gained a reputation for charging a lot of money to tell businesses what they often already know. That’s before they’ve even started the work!

This is the subject of Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington’s recent book,

The assumption was, as The Guardian puts it, that these ‘fresh faced consultants airlifted in from one of the big firms know better than the workers on the office floor or staff in the NHS, when they often seem to know very little.’

Pointing in right direction

But it doesn’t have to be like this. There is a new breed of consulting firm emerging which is providing businesses and organisations with value for money services and combatting those lazy ways of working that have for so long given the industry a bad name.

For example, rather than businesses having to spend a small fortune on consultants identifying what the key problems are before they even start work, Cognition has introduced an automated diagnostic tool that will do this for them. Called

Faster and cheaper than traditional diagnostics which typically cost over £100,000 and take around six weeks, Cognition Compass promises an accelerated delivery of just two weeks at a fixed rate of £20,000. Laser-focused on optimising the knowledge, skills and systems that organisations already have in place, it uses conversational AI to capture data and requires just two meetings to set up. What’s more, rather than delivering dull, lifeless PowerPoints at the end of the process, Cognition uses as a creative workspace to bring insights and recommendations to life.

One company that recently deployed Cognition Compass was outsourcing company Williams Lea. Using the data-driven tool, it was able to optimise its off-shore presentation services team both improving the employee experience and customer service at the same time.


Human-centric approach

Of course, it’s not just all about technology. While Mazzucato and Rosie Collington were right to criticise the use of fresh-faced grads who often don’t know the industry as well as their clients, there is a clear benefit of using a third-party for a fresh perspective.

Cognition’s consultants are domain specialists and experts in advanced technologies, usually working in small agile teams to share their expertise with clients. However, if a requirement is at the limits of their knowledge, they draw on their unique Alliances network for the right, best-in-class partner to support them.

While the big established consultancies have identified the easiest ways to make as much money as possible, new consulting firms like Cognition are emerging, who listen to their clients, address their problems and give them the tools they need to work independently in the future.

4 ways to get value for money from your consultancy

So how do organizations avoid some of the consultancy pitfalls that Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington highlight in their book, The Big Con. Here we look at a few of the factors that organizations need to consider before hiring a consultancy firm.


Decide the problem you want to solve: Often easier said than done perhaps, but it’s useful to be able to define the problem or opportunity that you're trying to address before getting a consultancy firm in. This will help you to identify the right company for the job and to ensure that they're focused on the right things. Diagnostic tools such as Cognition Compass may also help you to assess where you are as a company and point you in the right direction.

Do your research: Once you know what you're looking for, it's important to do your research and identify a few different consultancy firms who you're interested in working with. While the bigger companies may promise the earth that doesn’t mean they will be able to deliver results. They will also probably cost a lot more too! Smaller companies could well be a better fit. Particularly important is to make sure you know who is doing the consultancy work and that you get along with them.

Manage the relationship: Make sure that you and the consultancy firm have a clear understanding of the project's goals, deliverables and timeline. This will help to avoid any surprises or misunderstandings further down the road. Once the consultancy firm is on board, it's important to manage the relationship effectively. This includes providing clear and regular feedback and ensuring that the consultants are meeting your expectations.

Measure the results: Once the consultancy project is complete, it's important to measure the results. This will help you to determine whether the project was a success and to identify any areas for improvement. This will help to inform future decisions about whether to work with the consultancy firm again.

If you want to find out how Cognition and Cognition Compass can help your business set the right course for successful transformation, contact me or head to our website to find out more.