Dachis Group is a consulting firm. RedMonk is an analyst firm. Both are in the services world, which is dominated by companies that hire lots of people to be account executives, project managers and fill a host of other roles.
What makes these companies a bit different? Both are developing or collaborating on applications with developers and software companies. RedMonk has recently released an analytics tool. This past week, Dachis worked with MindTouch to release an alternative to Basecamp.
Services firms like Dachis and RedMonk are adapting in new ways to the fast-paced development world. It's not simple but by no means is it as complex as it once was to develop applications. And from our estimations, it will become increasingly important as apps offer increasing business intelligence and the ability to provide self-serve tools any customer can use.
The Dachis collaboration is a bit different than what RedMonk is providing. Dachis created a series of customizations to the MindTouch platform. MindTouch turned those customizations into product features.
It has also provided Dachis a way to influence the MindTouch core service and the chance to market to the MindTouch customer base. For MindTouch, it provides a new service that it can market to customers.
This signals a changing business climate where:
- Services firms are developing applications.
- New collaboration practices are connecting software companies with consulting companies and each other's clients.
- Self-serve is becoming more popular. Business intelligence tools mean more of a service firms's intellectual capital can be deployed as an application for customers to use.
Both Dachis and RedMonk are consulting companies and will most likely remain that way. What's different is that both are extending what they do by offering a product that supports the services they offer.
The Workforce Dachis product includes a host of features, including a microblogging service, project management capabilities and a business intelligence dashboard.
Bryan Menell runs the "Collaboratiory" Group for Dachis:
"We customized some things from MindTouch and they really liked the customizations, so it became a major influence for the next generation of their "Collaborative Intranet" product offering. They are much more capable than us to provide QA, product support, and all those things. Our CEO had a great example when he said it's like the Eddie Bauer edition of the Ford Explorer. It's still an Explorer, just with Eddie Bauer stylings, and Eddie Bauer doesn't change your oil."
He added in response to a question about how Dachis uses the platform:
"That's how it first came about, which is enhancements and additions we made to various existing MindTouch elements. So we use it every day. But of course it's customized for us. So by the time MindTouch makes it a little more generic, makes sure the code adheres to their development standards, and puts it through their QA process it looks a little different.
We're just excited to be able to influence their product direction, and contribute back to the community. It's not a tactic to generate other forms of revenue outside of consulting."
RedMonk's service is focused on providing analytics on the developer community. The service is based upon data collected on the RedMonk site and third party data sources.
It's a real-time analytics tool. Most analyst firms have armies of people who write reports that range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Few, if any, have cloud-based, real-time research tools for subscribers to the analyst firm's offerings.
These are offerings we expect to see more of from services firms, especially as products become easier to develop.
It just makes sense. Applications provide a value. People in services firms have a tremendous knowledge base that is often only shared in personal, client engagements.
Ben Kepes a blogger and consultant, agrees: "Services revenue are trending down," he said on Twitter. "The only option is to productize. Witness CloudSherpas etc..."
CloudSherpas is a good example. The company has migrated 600,000 customers to Google Apps. It has a consulting flavor but is emphasizing app development. They are one of the top rated admin apps in the Google Apps marketplace.
What will become of consulting firms that do not extend into application development? Our guess is they will miss the next wave where business intelligence and collaboration practices extend deeper into the enterprise. And in turn, this will mean self-service, not hand holding, will be the way customers will want to be treated.