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What does 2011 look like for consultants?

February 9, 2011

2011 is 1/12th over and thanks to my exalted status as thought leader (!!) for the BQ, I am compelled to write my predictions for 2011.

Others have put together a ton of great predictions already.

Such as:

I am not sure that I have anything unique to add to those perspectives, but have promised you predictions, so…

Being a small, independent consultant in Canada, where my market is pretty localized and my clients are fairly regionalized, I have come to think of myself as an economic bell-weather.  When the economy tanked, so did my consulting work, but since late fall 2010, things have picked up considerably.  For those of you who are independents, here are my predictions for you (us).

Prediction #1 – Lots of consultants will try to incorporate social media into their practice and tell their clients their expertise includes that.  Social learning is still a fuzzy concept.  It’s hard to claim expertise in this area.  It isn’t simply a matter of slapping a blog up or creating a twitter hashtag to gather class discussion.  It is important that consultants treat technology as a tool, and recognize that the secret is to figure out how to engage learners in the use of it and create context.

Prediction #2 – Clients are looking for some meaning in the mobile phenomenon, but aren’t ready to do anything yet.

While the notion of using mobile is appealing, I think many organizations raise lots of flags around it in practice.  While these sound interesting:

New hire downloads an app for their smartphone on day 1 with all the help they need. (tweet from @jmarrapodi).

Phone2Learn uses the phone aspect of the smartphone (as in voice), is a neat twist on mobile learning.  I think I saw this one via @neillasher

I think the reality is that many organizations won’t jump this year.  Fear will play a big role.  Fear that their private information is out of their control.  Fear of opening Pandora’s box.  Fear of legal risk.  Plus, while most organizations give their managers company owned smartphones, the HR perspective around policy/fairness makes it more challenging.  I thought the concept of using Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) for training at a large hotel  chain was quite a smart idea.  It identified the challenge of multi-platform devices that make it more daunting to create mLearning and while it is electronic it is not online/social.  Maybe training groups need to include budget for the dispensation of devices in their project plans too?

Prediction #3 – investment in learning is increasing

I have 2 brand new clients this year and have seen a big increase in inquiries.  I think that many organizations are ready to invest in learning again and this is a time to be a great “advisor”.  What steps could the organization take to manage risk for the future?  How can organizations shed programs that are no longer high value?  What might be a smart way for this organization to invest in technology.

Prediction #4 – the market is bigger than: corporate/for profit or government

I am finding that many organizations need guidance and advice around all facets of e-learning.  Non-profits, cooperatives, community groups, quasi-government organizations and other non-traditional clients are looking for help.  We’ll see more e-learning needs come from unexpected places, especially as it relates to social media.  Something that I am really taken with at the moment is Girl Effect, which to me, demonstrates brilliantly how e-learning could really play a unique role in a non-traditional client base.

Prediction #5 – More consortium/alliances of independents

OK, maybe this one is more of a wish, but I think that if these other predictions are to come true, a consultant who is able to build a network of resources that can add depth and/or breadth to their own skill sets, especially those that have expertise in the various technologies will find themselves busy.  Larger firms may have the ability to market themselves to the big organizations, but through mediums like Twitter and other social connectors, small fish can make big waves (awful metaphor).  I have found this colliding with sustainability advocates, too.

Contribute to the BQ on the blog or on twitter – we’ve set up #LCBQ to help you monitor the action!

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