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July 24, 2008

Where should consulting firms invest

I was reading the other day about one of those Silicon Valley legends and myths. Microsoft is said to be very interested in Yahoo not only for its online search business, but also for a secret and mythical patent referred to as "Patent 361".

True or not this is a fascinating insight into the potential value of intellectual property.  Yet as I read recently on the Ideanomics Blog, MBA programs globally still do not include any significant focus on managing IP as a core business process.

And this makes absolutely no sense. 

IP is a fantastic asset class for consulting companies. Launching a new service offering takes investment, and if your ideas are not protected then your "great idea" can easily be copied or replicated, or even stolen outright. leaving you with little or no recourse to do anything about it. You would not be the first person to create a marklet for your competitors to walk into.

So in the launching stages IP protection provides you with a powerful form of insurance. Although not an outright monopoly it does preserve basic elements and approaches so that they cannot easily be copied. Particularly if your patent is well formed.

Once launched, IP management safeguards your income stream, gives you the basis for future earnings projections, and builds concrete and quantifiable value into your consulting firm.

In fact, if your organization is based in the delivery of services, or if services form a large part of your revenue stream, then neglecting the IP investment leaves you and your income exposed.