eConsulting has come of age
The concept of a global village was coined when technological innovations removed communication barriers which were hitherto dependent on specific locations across the globe. The continued adoption of technology has seen businesses adopt digital technologies at a speed never seen before. Indeed, the Internet is now one of the most established channels and natural means of communication and carrying out all kind of online services. It is increasingly possible to deliver customer service directly through the Internet with little or no physical human intervention. Companies are developing strategies to deliver outstanding services using new technologies and media and to compete on a global basis, and have given customers unprecedented power regarding their buying options.
Some of the best-developed and most popular services on the Internet include:
- eBanking: Electronic and online banking and cash management services, access to electronic trading, sales and research tools, tax collection etc.
- eLearning: Virtual distance education institutes offering courses and certificate programs designed to meet specific needs and forwarded to certain audience.
- eShops: Practically anything could be bought online – from clothing to credit cards.
- eGovernment: Governments and public institutions spend millions of dollars on automating systems and making their services available to the public online.
- eMagazines: Most of the newspapers and magazines have online versions and provide access to their archives.
- eMarketing: for any company which wishes to justify marketing spending, maximize marketing campaign effectiveness, improve staff productivity and reduce costs, minimize duplication of effort between sales and marketing.
It is therefore a tad surprising that the concept of eConsulting – i.e. providing requisite support and advice to persons using the power of the Internet – had not really taken take root, until the advent of Covid-19. This global health and economic pandemic has cause cessation of movement of people in ways never imagined before. eConsulting in various forms has been a beneficiary of this ‘new normal’ with virtual meetings now being common place.
We have witnessed projects advertised, proposals submitted electronically, evaluations done remotely, virtual interviews conducted, contracts executed digitally, virtual stakeholder engagements done, final report virtually presented and engagement finalized. In most developing countries, this was unimaginable a few months back.
Some of the benefits of eConsulting include:-
- Most problems are solved merely through communication:
Most of the problems that people spend many man-hours scheduling and travelling to see a consultant are solved simply through communication. eConsulting provides a ‘consulting on demand’ model which can be accessed any time from anywhere as long as there is internet access. This
- Consultant and Client constantly stay in touch:
The contact between consultant and client is immediate, more affordable, and more frequently than the traditional face-to-face. With the proliferation of tools to access internet, everyone can have access to this service. The advent of virtual meeting tools like zoom have made the experience quite intuitive and very close to a face-to-face equivalent.
- Cost effectiveness:
eConsulting is more cost-effective than face-to-face consulting. This is both directly, but also indirectly through savings in travel and allied costs.
- Lower Wait time and prospects of cancellation!
A major advantage of eConsulting is that it is predictable once scheduled and the client and consultant rarely have any reason to reschedule engagements as they can take the role from wherever they are – even in traffic! The frustrations of scheduling an appointment and then waiting are rare as are the probabilities of cancellation. This eases planning for all concerned.