Dr B K Mukhopadhyay
(The author, a noted management economist and an international commentator on ongoing business and economic affairs, can be contacted at [email protected])
“It’s neither the strongest nor most intelligent of the species that survive; it is the one most adaptable to change” ~ Charles Darwin
So the New Year has almost arrived with much fanfare but coupled with deep rooted problems. In a word: New Year with old challenges.
Business today: Full of problems and promises too
The world of business has been changing very fast and unpredictably too. It is being rightly viewed in the business world today that ‘coping with the complexity of today’s business environment is not about predicting the future or reducing risk. It’s about building the capacity, in yourself, your people, and the organization to adapt continuously and learn speedily, in order to maximize the chances of seizing fleeting opportunities’.
So, complexities galore — business space, technologies, processes, business models as well have turned out to be more complex — new characteristics are added frequently (subtracted infrequently). The dimensions of business space keep increasing, adding complexity, while at the same time furnishing attractive new opportunities for those who can successfully navigate in the new environment. This complexity, in turn, also inhibits greater size and greater value creation.
Side by side, in the emerging era of over-communication and hyper-competition, people are overwhelmed by choice — choice of information, ideas, products, and services. Information is becoming readily available around the globe at an unprecedented pace. Customers, competitors and innovators have instant access to each other. The result — technological change, especially change in information and communication technology, delivered the Information Age and converted it to the Knowledge Age.
The question remains: How to move ahead over time?
Especially, in this age of innovention (innovation plus invention), the structure of trade vis-à-vis competition has been changing at a fast and consistent rate, where one technology is being replaced by the other, treating the globe as an extended village. Intense competition has become a way of life simultaneously with the implicit and explicit risk factors. On the one hand, the challenge is there to retain the customer, while on the other, the fears of unexpected loss arising out of the complex risk factors loom large. That is why, any scanning of international business environment is crucial on the part of an upcoming business venture.
Today’s business means, clearly, becoming an international player as nothing of such kind could succeed if the same remains restricted to a frog in the well form. It is something like accepting that ‘the ship looks good when parked in the harbour but the same is not meant for remaining so’. Business without risk is virtually preparing omelet without breaking the egg.
Today’s world: Wider scope for encashing the talent
In the words of Professor CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel: ‘In today’s corporate world, winning in a business is not about being number one, rather it is about who ‘gets to the future first’”. They urged the companies to create their own futures, envision new markets and reinvent themselves. It is the idea of core competency that actually boosted the BPO sector and allowed companies hand over the non-core side related to their business operations to others who are willing and can. It is, thus, better to concentrate on the core competency areas where the performance could be bettered — temporally, functionally, hierarchically and sectorally in the broader sense.
Thus, the question of complacency has already crossed the Rubicon — retaining the market share in the international arena, coupled with efforts directed towards a higher niche in the ever-changing market environment pose as the area where skill added to strategy formulation plays a dominant role. That is why economic / marketing policy formulation and implementation process run hand-in-hand. The international business scenario, thus require a deeper look, as segregated from outward show, judging from the point of view of strengthening the market competitiveness, which, in turn, call for intensive scanning of the emerging trends backed by analytical ability/anticipation..
Business processes must become more mature and the Institution must be able to deliver higher performance spatially, temporally, hierarchically and functionally. Obviously, to achieve the same, the starting point is designing (the comprehensiveness of the specifications as to how the process is to executed); followed by the performers (people executing the process based on skill and knowledge); owner (persons shouldering the responsibility for the process as well as the results); infrastructure (information/MIS that support the process); and of course, the metrics (the measures the company uses to track the process’s performance).
That is why enterprise capabilities are the crucial factors for ultimate achievement — leadership (executives who support the creation of processes); culture (values of customer focus, teamwork, personal accountability, and of course, the very willingness to change); expertise (skills in/methodology for, process design); and governance (the very mechanisms for managing complex projects and change initiatives). For developing high performance processes, institutions need to offer very supportive environments.
Boosting of service quality, keeping in view the very nature of effective demand, is the crying need. The challenge is not only to acquire the customer, but also to retain him in the business for furthering the process of improved customer value.
Strategy ultimately matters: Adaptability the key
On this score the choice of strategy also depends on facts and circumstances — may be one particular strategy becomes outdated or calls for supplements not necessarily by discarding the older one. This renovation is thus a continuous process. The redesigning of existing processes can effectively lead to dramatic enhancements in performance that enables the organization to deliver greater value to customers in ways that also generate higher profits to the stakeholders. So, focusing on, measuring and redesigning the customer-facing and internal processes improvements could be there in areas like: cost, quality, speed, profitability and other key areas. Arranging for such change — over calls for more than rearranging work-flows — that does what tasks, in what locations, as well as in what sequence.
Actually the good business leaders understand that there are competitive and economic values which could result in from talented people. The fact is that — as organizations strive to do more with few resources, they want to ensure that people are in the right jobs and of course they are determined, dedicated and deliver consistently as individuals, teams as well as groups.
So, welcome New Year! Let today’s growth era produce huge discontinuities, create new industries succeeding old ones, and accelerating the highly desirable global economic growth in the process. Let the ideas, technologies, and capital satisfy new needs, flow freely, emerging economies industrializing, everyone joining the digital revolution of boundless information and seamless electronic commerce — with expectations rising everywhere and human creativity flowering in every field — as rightly and nicely described by Ram Charan and Noel. M. Tichy (“Every business is a growth business”).