By Dr B K Mukhopadhyay
J et speeded changes in competition, technology, and workforce values are compelling organizations to search for new and more human ways of increasing productivity and competitiveness. The biggest changes have been due to the impact of information and communication technology. The ability to access vast information resources within a matter of minutes and to communicate across huge distances at ever lower costs and improving quality and convenience is transforming the way people and companies interact. Virtually, it is becoming harder to achieve market leadership and to stay on top.
Global business are has been changing very fast making it difficult for the poor-walkers to retain the market. There is a lot of noise out there. Merger / amalgamation / tie-up arrangements / outsourcing are being watched out – still something more is needed and that too on an urgent basis especially considering the existence of a very competitive world where there are many hungry competitors – the number too going up by leaps and bounds.
Change is not a new phenomenon to the business world. From the barter system to today’s e-commerce, from a system of transacting between individuals to transacting to bring transformations across the continents in an invisible scerio, the business world have experienced the change. The business of any business should be business and as such business should be directed to be customer-oriented to ultimately eble one to optimize wealth in an ethical manner since unethical practices ultimately leads one to roll down the shutter. Unless this basic principle is realized, the business will become an “endangered species”.
And of course the formula for trade off comes into play in such a vital context. Be it a commodity marketing or services marketing ultimately it is the quality that matters. Quality is nothing but a summation of cost and time. Changing any one of these variables would lead to change the outcome. If the amount of time is shortened to complete the assignment, either the cost is to be increased or quality is to be lowered. Quality refers to identifying the quality standards relevant to the assignment and determining how to measure and satisfy them.
Business processes must become more mature and the Institution must be able to deliver higher performance – spatially, temporally, hierarchically and functiolly. 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 / M I S that support the process]; and of course the metrics [ the measures the company uses to track the process’s performance].
Enterprise capabilities are the crucial factors for the ultimate achievement – leadership [executives who support the creation of processes ]; culture [values of customer focus, teamwork, persol accountability and of course the very willingness to change]; expertise [skills in / methodology for , process design]; and governce [the very mechanisms for maging complex projects and change initiatives].
So, focusing on, measuring and redesigning the customer-facing and interl 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 – which does what tasks, in what locations, as well as in what sequence.
For making the new process work the need is there to ensure that the jobs are redefined broadly backed by updated training system to support these jobs and at the same time ebling decision making. The process and the outcome are to be studied for next course of action.
The broad areas under such a change-over method include, among others: reshaping organizatiol cultures to emphasize on team performance, fixation of persol accountability, customer’s importance; magers overseeing the tasks rather than supervising and realigning the information system so that the cross-functiol processes work smoothly than simply support departments.
As of now, quality now is all set to become a commodity. The age of quality improvements has passed. Quality has already become a commodity overseas. In another five years, the picture will be no different in India. Noted Japanese magement guru Shoji Shiba rightly noted that for a country where no visit to a store is often complete without getting to hear shop-keepers use terms like ‘export quality’ to indicate that the items in question are better quality-wise than the ones made for domestic markets, its somehow difficult to imagine an India where such descriptions don’t exist. But, this seemingly impossible thought is what–– thinks is just a few years away from turning into a reality. It has been rightly located that currently, quality standards in India, in most cases, mirror those that prevailed in Japan in the 1950s and 60s. ‘But given the fast clock-speed of Indian companies, I expect them to also come up to levels that exist intertiolly by 2014,’ according to the ‘breakthrough magement’ expert.
In fact competition itself would leave domestic players with little choice but to work towards making a rapid transition from simply offering a range of products – not only high on quality but still on price, to ones which meet the ‘latent requirement of customers.’
Tasks remain unending: [a ] building the credibility; deciding on what to do; identifying the competitive edge; locating what makes service successful; understanding what makes the service fail; what makes ourselves stand out [b] knowing about our customers & prospects : who needs us - at the market, in order of importance , whom do we want to be our customers, whom don’t we want , where are they, how do we get to them, when is the best time to get to them, what turns them on and of course what turns them off ???? It is the goodwill ladder that is to be ascended. One only get a single chance to make a first impression & to most of the demanders’ first impression becomes the last impression – rightly or wrongly! The fact remains - the world wants to see the results only!
The happenings thus require a conscious and undivided attention. A well-groomed strategy could not only help protect the fund deployed, but also eble to face competition through customers’ confidence building.
So, is it not the fact that the path to success is an elaborate one? A long journey before one comes out of the tunnel indeed! In today’s fast changing world business is not just a cake walk / goodwill tour that one lands, grabs the opportunity and then vanish. Myopic approach is suicidal. Truly, success means a long term phenomenon – continuous market scans and adapting to change-friendly approaches. Strategy existing today may not be liked by the next generation and thus quick adaptability system is required to remain inbuilt.
Thus, we can jolly well conclude following Magement Wizard Shiba’s advise that the best prospects for Indian companies lay at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. “Don’t start out targeting the No. 1 slot and a domint market share. Instead, try to be unique, rewrite the business by focusing on the bottom of the pyramid, and soon you would have found that you have achieved what you wanted to – the top position….”
Dr Mukhopadhyay, a noted Magement Economist and an Intertiol Commentator on Business and Economic Affairs, can be located at firstname.lastname@example.org