Automated Reports May Squeeze Azure Chip Consultants

March 3, 2010

On Mach 1, 2010, I heard an interesting presentation by Alacra. This company aggregates business information and packages it in an easy-to-read way. The talk focused on Alacra Pulse. The basics of the service as I recorded the speaker’s comments are:

The Alacra Pulse Platform monitors thousands of carefully selected news feeds and blogs and extracts actionable intelligence in near-real-time.  Alacra’s Applied Knowledge Extraction turns Web content into an idea generation and current awareness service for financial professionals and corporate executives.

The Pulse service offers a free version and a premium version. I thought the demonstration of the free version was quite good, and it certainly shows how far automated content assembly has come in the last two or three years. You can explore the service yourself. Navigate to to get started.

Right after listening to the Alacra talk, I read a news release about “New Market Report Now Available: Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Limited – SWOT Analysis” from an azure chip outfit called Datamonitor. Now Hon Hai Precision, if I recall correctly, is a unit of Foxconn. Foxconn makes stuff for “hollow manufacturers.” The idea is that a company like Apple or Dell does not have the expertise or cost structure to make things. Foxconn and Hon Hoi do. The buzzword for lacking a core competency in manufacturing is outsourcing in my opinion. Foxconn is interesting because of a glitch in Apple related security and an employee death.

I think I prefer the autogenerated reports from Alacra, thank you. Image source

The azure chip crowd assembles reports, presumably like the Hon Hoi “SWOT” analysis using basic business school methods, which may or may not be germane to the present financial climate. Here’s what the news release said:

Datamonitor’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Limited – SWOT Analysis company profile is the essential source for top-level company data and information. Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Limited – SWOT Analysis examines the company’s key business structure and operations, history and products, and provides summary analysis of its key revenue lines and strategy.

Would you trust your retirement savings to anyone relying upon an off the shelf,  MBA’s SWOT analysis in today’s real time world? I would not.

But several more important questions crossed my mind.

First, why would I pay for a profile when I could get the basic information from Alacra? Furthermore, when I get the Alacra report, it is (as I recall the speaker’s saying) generated in real time. No delay between my request and getting the freshest data. I am reasonably capable can can formulate my own views of a company from fresh data if what I saw from Alacra is indicative of what the company provides in its Pulse service.

Second, assume I don’t know about Alacra. Why not use a federating search system such as,, or There are even more interesting federating systems to tap, including Bright Planet and Deep Web Technologies. I understand laziness, but these services can deliver the basic information that provides a manager with direct links to some publicly available, quite useful reports about the company; for example, the Google Finance or the AOL company report.

Third, if I * really * want to do a good job, perhaps my firm should look into industrial strength solutions from Kapow Technologies or Kroll Ontrack? Let’s face it. Buying an off-the-shelf report chock full of business school jargon may not be what’s needed to deal with a business decision in today’s economic climate.

My opinion is that as outfits like Alacra and Google roll out more reports generated by “smart” software, the pressure will mount on the azure chip consulting crowd. Already pressured from below by the likes of Gerson Lehrman Group and from above from the blue chip outfits like McKinsey & Co, the azure chip outfits will be like the cheese and salami in a Panini, feel heat and pressure from two places at once.

My thought is that canny business executives may want to check out services like Pulse, familiarize themselves with federating search systems, consider an industrial strength solution that operates in near real time, or just sign up for a pay as you consulting service from Gerson Lehrman. In short, do something other than buying the Cliff’s Notes for executives who are lazy like this addled goose. In short, the middle may be an uncomfortable place for self appointed experts, poobahs, and mavens writing reports about Chinese businesses using English language sources. Yep, Cliff’s Notes for Harried Executives?

Stephen E Arnold, March 3, 2010

No one paid me to write this. Since I mentioned myself as a lazy goose, I will report non paid writing to Fish & Wildlife, an outfit that does a stellar job scheduling rooms at national parts and monitoring the health of geese in the US.


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