TechnologyAccounting SoftwareInformation digest: The research essentials

Information digest: The research essentials

Each month we will be perusing the most authoritative sources to give you a taste of articles, research and case studies relevant to your practice, and pointing you in the right direction for further information.

Harvard Business Review

Creating new market space

This article examines the trend among organisations which have started to stake out new market space-creating products or services for which there are no direct competitors. Instead of looking within the conventional boundaries that define how an industry competes, managers can look methodically across them. Includes case studies from Home Depot and the software company Intuit.

The human moment at work

Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell argues that we are about to discover the destructive absence of human contact in the workplace. He cites a number of companies which have successfully “re-engineered” the workplace by restoring face-to-face contact with employees.

The new landscape for non-profits

Although this piece primarily addresses how the US government is adjusting its relationship with non-profit organisations, this is a useful article for a number of its case studies. Author William P Ryan cites examples of organisations like the YWCA and Abraxas to demonstrate various ways that non-profits are preparing to re-create themselves with full profit status.

Managing in the euro zone

Written a month before the introduction of the common currency, Nicholas Carr asks what monetary union means for managers. Senior executives from PwC, DaimlerChrysler, Sara Lee and ICI discuss how the euro will alter the European business landscape and change the rules of management.

Aligning strategy with the financial markets

In a series of case studies, authors Martha Amram and Nalin Kulatilaka show how applying financial market discipline can help illuminate a range of common business decisions – whether to add production capacity, or to invest in a new venture, or to upgrade an information system, for example.


Sloan Management Review

Strategies to turn adversity into profit

Despite the downturn in the US semiconductor industry in the ’80s Intel, Micron Technology and Texas Instruments exploited innovative technology and unique capabilities to shape their local environments and maintain their competitiveness. They employed “blocking”, “running” and “teaming up” tactics in order to prosper. Author Allan Afuah outlines the case studies in detail. Quote reprint no 4027

Managing complex production processes

Anil Khurana spent three years studying 10 colour picture tube factories and the different ways in which they iumanaged their processes. Khurana identifies two major modes of management – the control method and the learning method. These modes are described in full within the article alongside a 54 company survey that details the intricacies of the firms’ working methods. Quote reprint No. 4026.

The Delta Model: adaptive management for a changing world

Authors Arnoldo Hax and Dean Wilde researched 100 companies as a basis for the creation of their Delta Model. The model defines strategic positions that reflect fundamentally new sources of profitability. It also aligns these strategic options with a firm’s activities and provides congruency between strategic direction and execution. Finally the model introduces adaptive processes capable of continually responding to an uncertain environment.

Delta aims to provide a rich overall framework that integrates a firm’s options and activities without running the risk of oversimplifying the context in which it makes decisions. Quote reprint No. 4021.

An incremental process for software implementation

Experts have long advocated incremental approaches to technology implementation.

The SMR offers a strategy for guiding the implementation of advanced software technologies based on the principle of results – driven incrementalism (RDI). Quote reprint No. 4023.

Contact: – online

Journal of Commerce

Workers’ benefits

The Journal of Commerce leads its 28 January issue with an in-depth examination of Towers Perrin report, The Changing Role of Employee Benefits in Today’s Evolving Business Environment. The study gathered employee views from Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and the US. Managers were polled about the degree to which today’s benefit programmes support current business goals, deliver value to the organisation, support a new performance-based deal with employees and offer value to employees that is commensurate with programme costs.

The article offers an executive summary of the, sometimes damning, report and offers details should you wish to obtain your own copy of it.


Business Week

Asia logs on

Management consultants would be the first to admit that, financially speaking, the Asian market has been a little rocky of late. However, as revealed by Business Week, one sector within this highly volatile market is burgeoning. Asian businesses are climbing onto the Internet at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world. Internet service providers in non-Japan Asia had sales of $1bn last year and is expected to rise by a minimum of 61 percent annually.

Consultancy firms are pushing hard towards the Asian market and the Internet looks like one the most prosperous prospects for them. Bruce Einhorn, Manjeet Kripalani and Michael Shari provide a report that represents an excellent introduction to this lucrative sector.


The frequent flyers guide

For all those consultants who spend more time at 35,000 feet than at home, Business Week provides you with 10 tips on how to get the most out of the travel bonuses offered by airlines. If you qualify for individual air miles during your globetrotting consultations, it could increase your own personal profit line.


US survey roundup

An excellent article. If you are interested in US growth prospects, you’ll want to take a look at this one. Business Week has pulled together some of America’s industrial giants in order to gauge opinion. Not only is the article statistic-rich but vox-pops include contributions from Credit Suisse, DaimlerChrysler, Prudential Healthcare, Wal-Mart, Ford Motor Corporation and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. The report covers the major industry sectors such as retail, high-tech, and manufacturing.

The article is one of those examples of the sort of economic overview that Business Week excels at.


London Business School

The London Business School offers a wide range of research and will, of course, undertake specially commissioned or sponsored research. At present, there are a number of projects that the School is actively targeting towards management consultants. We offer you an at-a-glance selection of the most relevant reports.

The management of professional partnerships

This research examines the structure and systems of control and policies for managing care professionals in partnerships, particularly focusing on accountancy and law. Professional partnerships are said to operate in distinctive ways but face strong pressures to become more “business-like” and to exploit their resources more efficiently. Using survey and interview methods, the research explores patterns of change and continuity in partnerships and undertakes comparative analysis across professions.

The management of strategic and organisational change

This research addresses three key questions: how is change initiated and implemented in relatively successful organisations? What is the role of the “top team” at corporate level and within operating companies in initiating change? What is the contribution of management development in the implementation of organisational and strategic change?

The leading edge consortium

This ongoing research examines key issues in human resource management processes and practices. In particular, it addresses such themes as the link between business strategy and human resource strategy, as well as the nature and perceived effectiveness of human resource interventions such as recruitment, selection, training, and rewards.

Managing under regulatory regimes

Price-cap regulation administered by an independent regulator has been the model for privatisation in many sectors. This research looks at specific issues involved in managing under such regimes with particular reference to management competencies and performance. It seeks both to understand the idiosyncracies of managing in any environment with surrogates for competition.

Contact: … ects

The Consultant’s Own: A selection of research available from UK consulting firms

The liberalisation of Europe’s electricity market by the EU could boost usage of natural gas. It is thought that price pressures from increased electricity competition and an improved gas supply network will boost gas use. Details from Julia Wright at Andersen Consulting on 0171 312 1812.

IT issues are at the top of CEO agendas around the world. Industry leaders are learning more about IT as well as looking at ways to align it with business direction. Despite this there is an increasing difficulty in measuring IT financial contribution. To obtain a copy of the survey, Strategic IT and the CEO Agenda, contact Debbie Roberts at AT Kearney on 214 777 5256.

An e-commerce study contends that the application of new media for customer care processes shows that although 50 percent of companies have clearly defined objectives, only 36 percent have formulated strategies for reaching them. Only a limited amount of companies believe that the usage of new media will lead to a competitive advantage. The findings of the Arthur D Little survey are available from Ruth Haynes at Nearly two-thirds of technology executives who market abroad would support the federal reserve, the new European Central Bank and others working together to co-ordinate a programme for global economic stability. The Technology Barometer survey also found a majority in favour of setting up a new independent bank run by the Group of Seven. More details on the PwC survey is available from Pete Collins on 212-259 4469.

Internet billing and customer care is becoming a key issue in business.

However, many telecoms operators have yet to define a coherent strategy to take advantage of such opportunities. This survey looks at how operators should use the Internet as a channel for providing customer care and billing.

It is available from Nicki Davies at Ernst & Young on 0171 928 2000.

Website of the month:

All information assumes a certain level of understanding from its readers.

That’s fine if the information provided is so well targeted that it perfectly suits the reader’s understanding. However, all too often there is a gap between between what’s written and what’s understood. This website is a real haven for those who have to plough through reams of information technology-related research. The website assumes little knowledge on the part of the surfer, while at the same time it never talks down them.

A wide range of IT issues are explored on this site and explained in simple, yet detailed terms. The technicalities of each issue are also outlined for those who want a more nuts and bolts understanding of the subject. It’s a free service and an invaluable one at that. As well as the chapters defining technologies there are a series of articles attached to each of the sections that examine the latest trends and techniques employed in that industry.

@Brint is much more than a glossary, although it fills this useful function too. It is a regularly updated overview of the major issues that the IT industry. Journals such as Fortune, Business Week, ComputerWorld, Information Week, Forbes, the New York Times and the Harvard Business Review have all praised the site as being one of the best resources for both its content and depth.

The site is of especial use to those interested in the field of knowledge management. The entire January issue was devoted to knowledge management with particular focus on strategy and information technologies. The site has also constructed its own knowledge management library – a valuable resource for quick reference.

The site’s interface cannot really be faulted and as you would expect from a site that deals with knowledge management in such a detailed way, the server connection is very fast.

Finally, the site doesn’t just exist to pump information in your direction, it actively encourages you to take part in a number of lively online forums.

Bookmark the site – now.

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