PracticeConsultingGame, set and match to IBM

Game, set and match to IBM

Every so often, the consulting industry receives a volley of criticism, claiming that ‘the only purpose of a management consultant is to make a small fortune out of telling other people how to run their businesses’.

Of course, some companies have every right to complain over a bad business
experience, but having seen at first-hand the work that went into one particular
contract and the unblemished long-term relationship between the client and
provider, I have to say these calls are mostly unjustified.

Take last week, for example, when I paid my annual pilgrimage to the leafy
south London suburb of Wimbledon.

During the first Thursday’s play, I was guided behind the scenes of this
massive operation by Chris Lee, a former navy helicopter pilot-turned IBM
Wimbledon project director, who has the huge responsibility of ensuring that the
technology and IT systems that process the official website and masses of tennis
data run smoothly during the fortnight.

Think about this for a second: the website was updated an average 260,000
times a day by a team of dedicated techies checking that every digit within the
Wimbledon network was correct and openly accessible to the public,
statisticians, players, coaches and even Big Mac up in the commentary box.

It really is two weeks of intense pressure, with the whole world watching.
Not only do the consultants spend 14 days solidly managing the technology and IT
that supports the tournament, they are also on-call all year round to consult,
advise and implement business ideas and projects within the All England Club.

What is forgotten is that Wimbledon is also a small to medium-sized business
that needs advice, fresh thinking and a series of steady revenue streams.

Every detail is examined, tested, piloted and implemented. From those that
endure days of camping in ‘the queue’, to the office workers trapped behind
their desks dreaming of hitting a 140 mile per hour aces against Roger Federer,
this truly is the dream consulting deal.

If everyone followed the Wimbledon example, no dodgy line calls would ever
have to be heard over the industry’s reputation.

James Bennett is editor of Management Consultancy

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