Entrepreneurial Challenge


We have experienced such an explosion of entrepreneurs in last two decades. There are many reasons why people are willing to take the risks of starting business. These reasons generally include the following:

  • Opportunity: Many people do not have necessary skills for working in today’s complex organizations. They do have the initiative and drive to work the long hours demanded by entrepreneurship. They are willing to sacrifice to see that their children have a chance of a good life. The same is true of many corporate managers who leave the security of the corporate life and try running businesses of their own.
  • Profit: Profit is only one reason to become an entrepreneur, but an important one. The profit potential of entrepreneurship is fantastic.
  • Independence: Many entrepreneurs simply do not enjoy working for someone else. They do not like the stress and demands of business.
  • Challenge: Entrepreneurs are excitement junkies who flourish on taking risks. They seek achievement more than power.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

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Information: The Corporate Power


The explosion of the general public’s use of the Internet or World Wide Web was mirrored by business. In the 1990s, business connections to the Internet increased from 1,000 firms to an estimated 21,000 or more by 1996. Experts predict this growth to increase rapidly into the year 2000.

The Internet can provide firms with many advantages. For example, developing a marketing strategy that relies on the Internet can benefit firms by replacing electronic mail systems, providing a global reach to customers, selling products and services in cyber space, and creating on-line databases, media lists, and other marketing tools. Firms discovered that customer service was enhanced with the Internet.

Use of the Internet became one of the hottest new strategies in the securities trading industry. Brokers had more information available to them to assist their clients since resources were available electronically. In addition, Internet-based brokers can be reached anytime from any computer with a secure Web browser, making them more accessible to their clients.

Paperless libraries dramatically changed the way information was stored and significantly reduced costs to businesses. Rather than printing information on paper, firms documented information on CD-ROMs, videodiscs, and the Internet, where it was stored and retrieved at less cost.

Supplementing the Internet as a communication tool are intranets, private or limited information network systems cordoned off from public access by software programs called firewalls. The corporate use of intranets exploded as companies found that these information communication systems were very expensive.

Satellite imaging was another technological advancement that showed promise for integrating technology into business. For decades, governments used satellite imaging to spy on their enemies. In the 1990s, companies were finding other uses for this technology.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Planning for Uncertainty


Uncertainty has become so great as to render futile, if not counterproductive, the kind of planning most companies still practice: forecasting based on probabilities.

Unique events have no probability. Yet executives have to make decisions that commit to the future current resources of time and money. Worse, they have to make decisions not to commit resources—to forgo the future. The lengths of such commitments are steadily growing: in strategy and technology, marketing, manufacturing, employee development, in the time it takes to bring a new plant on steam or in the years until a commitment to a store location pays for itself. Every such commitment is based on assumptions about the future. To arrive at them, traditional planning asks, “what is most likely to happen?” Planning for uncertainty asks instead, “What has already happened that will create the future?”

The first place to look is in demographics. There have been two revolutionary changes in the workforce of developed countries: the explosion of advanced education and the rush of women into careers outside the home. Both are accomplished facts. The shift from blue-collar labor to knowledge and service workers as the centers of population gravity is irrevocable. But so is the aging of both the workforce and population.

Business people need to ask: “What do these accomplished facts mean for our business? What opportunities do they create? What threats? What changes do they demand in the ways the business is organized and run, in our goals, in our products, in our services, in our policies? And what changes do they make possible and likely to be advantageous?”

The next question is: “What changes in industry and market structure, in basic values (e.g., the emphasis on the environment), and in science and technology have already occurred but have yet to have full impact?” It is commonly believed that innovations create changes—but very few do. Successful innovations exploit changes that have already happened. They exploit the time lag—in science, often twenty-five or thirty years—between the change itself and its perception and acceptance. During that time the exploiter of the change rarely faces much, if any, competition. The other people in the industry still operate on the basis of yesterday’s reality. And once such a change has happened, it usually survives even extreme turbulence.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Changing Face of Customer Service


Excellent customer service—the daily, ongoing support of a company’s offerings—is critical in creating brand identity and ultimate success. It includes answering questions, taking orders, dealing with billing issues, handling complaints, scheduling appointments, and similar activities. These essential functions can make or break an organization’s relationships with its customers. The quality of customer care can significantly impact brand identity for service, manufacturing, and consumer products companies. Because of its importance in creating impressions and sustaining customer relationships, customer service has sometimes been called the “front door” of the organization or its “face.”

 

So how has the “face” of customer service changed with the influx of technology? Long ago all customer service was provided face-to-face through direct personal interaction between employees and customers. To get service you had to visit stores or service providers in person. The telephone changed this, allowing customers to call companies and speak directly with employees. Customer service became less personal, but without a doubt more efficient, through use of the telephone. With the evolution of computer technology, customer service representatives (CSRs) became even more efficient. Through computer information systems and customer data files, CSRs are able to call up customer records at their workstations to answer questions on the spot.

 

Over time, because communication and computer technologies allowed it, large organizations began to centralize their customer service functions, consolidating into a few large call centers that could be located anywhere in the country or world. But still, in these types of call centers, customer service is for the most part an international event with customers talking directly, one-on-one with an employee.

 

The advent and rapid proliferation of the efficient, but much maligned, automated voice response systems have changed personal customer service in many organizations into menu-driven, automated exchanges. In almost every industry and any business context consumers encounter these types of systems, and many are quite frustrating—for example, when a system has a long confusing set of menu options or when no menu options seems to fit the purpose of the call. Similarly, consumers become angered when they cannot get out of the automated system easily, or when there is no option to speak to a live person.

 

Some companies have overcome these obstacles, however, and have well-designed automated telephone systems that work well for customers. This is accomplished through a form of natural-language speech recognition technology that allows customers to easily interact through the telephone in ways that are much like talking to a real person. Further, a human contact is always easy to get to if needed. Customer satisfaction is rated among the highest in any industry. One of the keys may be that the vice president of retail voice technology occupies a senior management position, showing importance placed on this function. In general, satisfaction levels for automated speech recognition systems are higher than satisfaction with touch-tone systems and in some cases are higher than for live agents.

 

Beyond automated telecom systems, explosion of the internet is also dramatically changing customer service for many companies. Service can now be provided on the internet via e-mail, website robots, FAQs, and online chat. In these cases there is no direct human interaction, and customers actually perform their own service. At Ford Motor Company’s technology that allows dealership customers to set their own service appointments, send messages regarding their specific repair needs, and monitor the status of their vehicles, all online.

 

With the relentless proliferation of technology solutions, firms are finding that expectations for customer service have changed. Customers are demanding choices in how they get customer service, whether it be over the phone, automated voice systems, via fax or email, or through internet self-service. However, while customers often enjoy technology-based service and even demand it in many cases, they dislike it when it doesn’t work reliably (a common problem), when it doesn’t seem to have any advantages over the interpersonal service alternatives, and when there are no systems in place to recover from failures. Interestingly, when things don’t work as they are supposed to on an internet site or through an automated response system, customers are quick to look for more traditional interpersonal (in person or via telephone) options, coming full circle to where we started.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Change or Change Management?


Our ability to deal with mega theme dramatic change is the subject of the next trend. Perhaps the single most important indicator for corporate success in the near future is the attitude of the company culture about change. The willingness of a structure to set itself up for change, to regard itself as a testing ground with daily battles, not just those that occur every planning period, is one of the best litmus paper indicators of eventual success or failure.

Today’s information explosion is just beginning. The growing list of mergers, alliances and joint ventures and the rapid deployment of technology are producing change at a velocity that even the seasoned players in businesses can’t surmise. The challenge for businesses will not be in how we manufacture or market change but how we manage it.

The days of the large-scale, vertically integrated corporation are numbered. The trend is toward smaller enterprises with increasing specialization of products are services: the upcoming approach is 50 people are the maximum for the company; if the staff gets above 50 people the company will be cut in two. There is no place to hide in a firm of 50 people. These small companies know what’s happening in their marketplace and with their competitors—they’re not from the marketplace.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight