Consulting is asking to see the client's watch and then telling him what time it is. - Old Business Saying
As a part of my consulting agreement, my client is having me do a market study to see if their gizmo is a good fit for the cellphone market, something I'm something of an expert it. The VP also asked me to add to the report a study on the "wanuzit" market, an area that I know nothing about (I can't say the real market for proprietary reasons, so am using a fictional name, like widget). Straight away I said "okay". I have no market data on wanuzits and I know no one who works in that market, but wasn't too concerned since I knew a solution would present itself. It always does. I just didn't realize it would come from my client.
Later on I was meeting with the CTO, who asked how my study was going. I told him about my progress and that I was looking into the wanuzit market. "Oh, really? Let me tell you about that market!" He then proceeded to verbally dictate the pertinent section of my report to me, including how their product fit into it. Problem solved.
The funny part is that the more time I spend with my client the more I run into stuff like this. They know their markets fairly well, and obviously understand their gizmo more than I do, so I am wondering what marginal benefit I am providing them. I will say the more time I spend with the company the more impressed I am with it, so I am getting the feeling that this is an extended job interview for both parties.