What's In A Name? Defining Bounteous and Our Capabilities
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" -
While I’ll use this post to review the origin and meaning of the name Bounteous, my goal is to be a resource for business leaders who are seeking to use digital to gain a competitive advantage. We'll lay out the types of skills and partners needed and how to assess the right partner for you. Along the way, we’ll also shed light on the type of flower—read company—that is Bounteous.
While a rose may smell sweet regardless of what it's called, words do matter. Say the words "digital transformation" to 10 different people, and you’ll get 10 different impressions of what that entails. As words and phrases become popular, their usage can become distorted and their meaning remixed and redefined, broadening or narrowing at every application to fit the author’s need. Phrases like "digital transformation" need context to be truly meaningful, whether they find themselves in a company’s strategic plan or flashed in an agency’s demo reel.
Now let’s get to Bounteous as a name. In 2018 we rebranded our firm, originally HS2 Solutions, as Bounteous. We started this process because we had grown considerably, including acquiring other firms with their own brands and specializations. The origin story aspects of the name HS2 Solutions, a nod to this being the second digital solutions firm co-founder Phil Hollyer and I started, the first being Hollyer & Schwartz, seemed less relevant as we went through the naming process.
We were seeking a forward-looking name that captured both who we are and what we do, as well as the aspirations for the entire company to be generous, bold, and big-hearted.
Bounteous is a real word that means "generously given" and is synonymous with bountiful or abundant. Bounteous helps describe the way we work with our clients, seeking out opportunities to share insights, improve processes through methodology, and educate along the way. It also describes the other ways that we give abundantly—to our clients and professional communities through expertise, tools, and thought leadership—as well as our communities at large through our philanthropic efforts.
But What Type of Firm is Bounteous?
To truly understand this, it’s important to first understand who we are and what we aim to be.
Our mission at Bounteous is both simple and clear. We’re here to help our clients compete and win digitally. Everything we do is based upon an understanding of that mission, including who we hire, how we work with our clients, what we teach our people, when we recommend action, and why we matter.
As a company, we have embraced the fundamental belief that business is a competition. It influences our culture and values. Our purpose as an organization is to understand and shape our client's strategy and to help our clients compete and win.
Pondering what it will take to help a client gain competitive advantage has also been good for Bounteous.
It has made us a better company and made us a better partner. It has shaped our people, our service offerings, and how we are organized.
We started in 2003 with a hardcore group of technologists and strategists who believed they could "build anything." This was not entirely unfounded; we quickly built up a roster of high-profile websites to prove it: www.dominos.com, www.apartments.com, www.art.com, www.wilson.com, www.zipcar.com to name just a few.
In the years that followed, we’ve carefully and with great intention developed and integrated other capabilities that are necessary to meet our mission and make our customers digital leaders—capabilities in advanced analytics, strategy, customer experience, marketing, and communications.
As we’ve rallied around this clear and simple mission and been able to produce tangible results for our clients, our company and reputation has grown dramatically. But along the way, we’ve always defied an easy categorization, a single label that captures the type of company we are.
"Is Bounteous a consulting firm, an agency, or a systems integrator?"
When asked what "kind of firm is Bounteous," and in an attempt to label us, we are often forced to choose one of the above. Companies seeking out assistance with their digital efforts often have wildly different connotations of what each of those words mean, but popular trends can emerge.
However, none of those labels can exclusively capture who we are or what we aspire to be. Our vision is that Bounteous is a nimble and integrated version of all of the above, while recognizing that data is the root of insight, technology is the engine of change, and changing human behavior requires appeals to the head and heart.
I believe clients need firms like Bounteous. At the heart of a search for an agency, consultancy, or SI, companies are really looking to understand, "how will you help us compete and win?" Driving digital innovation requires integrated capabilities, a culture and engagement model that is focused on customer success, and a breadth of capability and depth of skill to make it happen. We often encounter companies hiring completely different agencies to handle their analytics, user experience, or technology needs, or one company to create a strategy and another to execute it. Not surprisingly, the results which follow are often suboptimal.
This is not to say sole sourcing is the only strategy and there is no room for best of breed. But in 25 years of helping clients trying to compete and win digitally, certain themes emerge time and again. I’ve enumerated some of these in the Co-Innovation Manifesto, and anyone choosing a partner should review and insist upon its Bill of Rights.
In the context of selecting the type or number of firms to partner with, let me also note the following:
- There needs to be a mutual investment of time in getting a partner up to speed on a client’s business. Adding partners adds to this overhead.
- The burden of information sharing, communication, and coordination between partners often falls on the client organization. This can be considerable and grows exponentially as partners are added.
- Gaps in communication, expectation setting, and information sharing can result in suboptimal customer experiences, inefficient use of resources, and poor performance of programs, campaigns, and media.
- When hiring a firm boasting multiple capabilities it is important to assess integration. What evidence exists to show the delivery model is not siloed? Will your team be staffed from different P&Ls? Does the firm demonstrate agility in all aspects of its business?
- Talent is crucial. Clients must evaluate a partner’s reputation for attracting and keeping talent. Clients lose knowledge capital when they have partners who don’t retain their staff, or have churn due to staff reassignments. What can Glassdoor tell me about what is going on inside this firm?
- In the end, most large complex businesses will need more than one partner to meet all of their digital needs across the customer lifecycle, but fewer will be better. Finding partners who have a breadth and depth of skill, a focus on enablement and knowledge sharing, and a co-innovation mindset and set of methods are essential.
Bounteous is positioned at the intersection of consultancies, integrators, and agencies and offers integrated and nimble teams focused on helping clients compete and win. Our vision is to be the co-innovation partner to the highest performing companies on the planet.