Everyone knows that Accenture hires inexperiences resources, but who is actually writing Accenture’s white papers?
Articles can be motivated by inspiration, or frustration. Neither motivation is more or less valid than the other. This post is definitely motivated by the later. I thought I might learn something by reading a white paper on service management that was produced by Accenture back in 2003. Guess again. Nine pages of content-free PDF later, and what felt like the equivalent of a literary Diet Pepsi, we learned the following:
- Accenture is focused on service management
- Saturn is focused on service parts
- There are software companies that focus on service parts
- Accenture has a nice graphics department
Any Information in That White Paper Partner?
Is there an interest in actually communicating any information in white papers or are they purely promotional items to Accenture? This phenomena is not restricted to Accenture, there is simply far too much promotional literature that is disguised as white papers. This is one of the reasons why the “research” departments at the large consulting companies don’t produce very much of value. Other reasons are that these departments don’t employ people with an understanding of research, but most importantly, these firms lack integrity, and the research departments are really just cover operations for marketing and business development. No paper is written, and no effort is undertaken at large consulting companies without the concept of a direct payoff in the marketplace. As a result, many white papers simply designed to hook the reader into contacting the consulting firm.
The promotional white paper format goes something like this:
- Come up with white paper title
- Create a beautiful cover page
- List two partners on the second page
- Come up with a few examples of companies that are doing something similar to what the white paper is discussing
- Talk about how technology is important
- Put a few graphics in the white paper, the simple the better (three circles is apparently white paper nirvana)
- List the obligatory 30% improvement in whatever (30% seems to be the magic number — all improvements return 30%)
- List contact details
Material for Retarded Executives?
The quality of many of these papers provide a glimpse into how simple-minded are executives that assign their names to these papers? For instance, what we learned from Accenture’s white paper is that Accenture either knows extremely little about service parts, or did not leverage any of its external expertise on the topic. (In a white paper on inventory optimization, I learned that Booz Allen Hamilton does not actually understand what the term means.) If I were an executive I would not be overly interested in having Accenture come and visit my service organization, since a quality white paper on the topic is apparently beyond them.
Sell Sell Sell…
Everyone wants to sell business, but the implied agreement is that white papers are actually going to contain information that could be valuable to the reader. If white papers continue to be so promotional, fewer people will read them. For those consulting companies looking to learn how to write a white paper, check out the Ciber website and see how its done. (BTW, we have no affiliation with Ciber, we just like their documentation.) Here is Accenture’s promotional brochure…err, we mean white paper. http://www.accenture.com/NR/rdonlyres/6BBEC529-3EE0-491F-B6BF-A19F2750E6EB/0/profit_after_sales.pdf
You could spend time reading it, but what is the point?