Justin thyme

Emu-st be joking

Bored with the year 2000 bug? Avoid the rush and have your systems go down the pan with the EMU in 1999 instead? A survey of 10,000 businessmen carried out in my head just now found that their unanimous response to the EMU armageddon was a pathetic: “Oh yeah, right … whatever.” Faced with this seeming indifference on the part of the client population to the stupendous problem of converting their financial systems from working with 12 currencies to just the one, consultants are resorting to ever more desperate means to drum up interest in the coming apocalypse. Here we see Price Waterhouse’s Mark Austen gingerly posing with the London Zoo’s emu, which PW have now adopted as a symbol of their commitment to this opportunity, er problem. Whether Austen was subjected to the full Rod Hull – Michael Parkinson crotch-grabbing treatment we’ll never know, but note the tightly buttoned knee-length overcoat.

Assault and battery

Call centres that use “battery farm” management methods must adopt a more “free range” approach (it says here). Justin Pannell of consultants Managing the Service Business has called for a more humane approach to managing the sinister call centres which threaten to swallow 2 per cent of the population by the year 2001. This will come as a shock to call centre managers, who seem to think that a bit of clean straw and a quick rinse with the hose every now and then is all their employees need. What next? The dolphin-friendly help desk?

Expresso drongo

Coopers & Lybrand Kinesis will be doing their bit for the future at the IMC ’98 Conference (no, not that IMC. Another one.), with an Internet cafe. This will wittily include a reproduction British “caff” of the ’50s, so we can all see how far we’ve come since the bad old days when teenagers hung around in cafes all day, taking speed and listening to Tommy Steele records. Now they hang around in cafes all day inhaling pure oxygen and surfing the Web. Excuse me, was there a brief interval of lucidity in the middle there?

They named it once

To Manhattan with the mercurial Andersen Consulting, whom we must now never refer to as androids, (but nor yet do they wish to gain a reputation as party animals), and never ever as a Big Six firm (although they wouldn’t like you to think that they were in any way small). Actually we’re getting pretty iffy about that “consulting” tag, what with all the outsourcing they do now, and as for “Andersen” – well who knows how the arbitration might go … “The firm formerly known as Andersen Consulting” has a kind of a ring to it … Anyway, they’re “Building the Consulting Firm of the Future” and in celebration presented each of the assembled hacks with a chocolate CD announcing the fact. Yes, a chocolate CD. (No, I can’t prove this. I ate it. I’m not proud, I was hungry). This had the dual effect of so confusing the journos and analysts that they couldn’t think of any sensible questions, and also of wrecking the disk drive in my laptop.

So we’re still not entirely sure what the consulting firm of the future will look like, but are confident it will be constructed according to the well-worn AC methodology of “Design … Build … and RUN!”

Travelling hopefully

There are so many awards these days that it’s almost uncanny – sob! – that I haven’t got one. But we were pleased to see a management consultant scoop the title of “Best Female Business Traveller” in the Company Barclaycard Executive Traveller of the Year Awards (always a useful addition to any CV, we feel). Julia Colclough of Hove-based Criteria Consultancy won the award after making a punishing 72 journeys in 104 days while conducting a customer survey for Nokia, visiting 36 destinations and conducting 92 interviews. Mind you, given the state of the trains these days she’d probably have qualified just for getting out of Hove.

Following the nerd

Remember the “brain drain” of the ’60s, when all our talent flew off to America, like, er whatsisname? Apparently it’s going to happen again.

According to Trish Boag, head of resourcing at KPMG, moves are afoot in the States to solve the skills shortage in IT by removing restrictions on hiring foreign professionals. This will cause the immediate departure of every propeller head in the kingdom to the land of Star Trek, and we’ll be forced to go back to using quill pens and abacuses (yippee!). Boag suggests we counter this threat by relaxing our own immigration laws and importing our own nerds from countries more impoverished than we (and this would include exactly …?). But before London becomes overrun with Silesian systems analysts and Ruthenian R/3 experts, I have an alternative plan. A simple change in our sentencing laws can convert the States back into the penal colony it was always meant to be. “I find you guilty of theft, assault, drug-dealing and pimping. I hereby award you an MSc in Computer Studies and a one-way ticket to Silicon Valley.”

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