Information digest – The research essentials

The global workplace and the role of women

That the world is going global comes as a surprise to no one. Whereas world output grew by 600 percent in the past 50 years, world trade grew by 1,500 percent. Will women become leaders in this increasingly global world? Many believe the answer to be no. Yet, the extent to which women may play a leadership role in the next century may surprise even some of the most savvy observers.

Market and societal orientation in the non-profit sector

In recent times, there has been considerable interest among non-profit practitioners in market orientation and the extent to which the adoption of it might be linked to enhanced organisational performance. Preliminary studies have typically employed instruments such as MARKOR to measure market orientation in this setting and found tentative support for the existence of such a link. In this paper, it is argued that these approaches are fundamentally flawed. It calls for a new method of measurement.

Strategic management of IS/IT functions: the role of the CIO

CIOs have the difficult job of running a function that uses a lot of resources but offers little measurable evidence of its value. Line managers are increasingly assuming responsibility for planning, building and running information systems that affect their operations. To respond to business and technological changes, CIOs now must build relationships with line managers and assume new and more strategic roles. The strategic job of the CIO is becoming ever more complex, requiring an expansion of the organisational and structural possibilities for filling that role. This paper presents an extensive literature review on the role of the CIO. The research examines the CIO function in Norwegian organisations based on an extensive survey conducted in that country.

Strategic information systems planning: the implementation challenge

The need for improved implementation of information technology strategy has been emphasised in both empirical and prescriptive research studies.

In this one, 10 content characteristics of formal IT strategy are identified from the research literature as potential implementation predictors: i) resources needed for implementation; ii) user involvement during implementation; iii) analysis of the organisation; iv) anticipated changes; v) solutions to potential resistance; vi) IT to be implemented; vii) project’s relevance to the business plan; viii) responsibility for the implementation; ix) management support; x) clarity of documentation.


Unbundling the corporation

No matter how monolithic they may seem, most companies are engaged in three kinds of business. One business attracts customers. Another develops products. The third oversees operations. Although organisationally intertwined, these businesses have conflicting characteristics.

Ultimately, the authors John Hagel III and Marc Singer predict, traditional business will unbundle and then rebundle into large infrastructure and customer-relationship businesses and small, nimble product innovation companies. And executives in many industries will be forced to ask the most basic question about their companies: What business are we really in? Their answer will determine their fate in an increasingly frictionless economy.

Tailored, not benchmarked: a fresh look at corporate planning

In today’s competitive markets, every company has an action plan. Yet, for most managers, the processes used to create these plans don’t work.

The root of the problem, suggests author Andrew Campbell, may be that too many companies benchmark their processes and by doing so, prevent managers from focusing on what is unique to their situation.

Good planning processes are not generic processes but ones in which both analytical techniques and organisational processes are carefully tailored to the needs of individual businesses and to the skills of corporate managers.

Granada, the Dow Chemical Company and Emerson Electric are cited as just three companies that have successfully individualised their processes.

Bad planning can actively destroy value, the author says. It wastes people’s time and money. It sends the wrong signals to managers. It can even lead managers to follow bad advice. That’s why managers should go to the effort of re-examining and possibly changing their company’s planning process.

Competing with giants: survival strategies for local companies in emerging markets

The arrival of a multinational corporation often looks like a death sentence to local companies in an emerging market. After all, how can they compete in the face of the vast financial and technological resources, the seasoned management, and the powerful brands of, say, a Compaq or a Johnson & Johnson?

But local companies often have more options than they might think, say authors Niraj Dawar and Tony Frost. These options vary, depending on the strength of globalisation pressures in an industry and the nature of a company’s competitive assets.

In the worst case, when globalisation pressures are strong and a company has no competitive assets that it can transfer to other countries, it needs to retreat to a locally-oriented link within the value chain. But if globalisation pressures are weak, the company may be able to defend its market share by leveraging the advantages it enjoys in its home market.

Many companies in emerging markets have assets that can work well in other countries. Those that operate in industries where the pressures to globalise are weak may be able to extend their success to a limited number of other markets that are similar to their home base. And those operating in global markets may be able to contend head-on with multinational rivals.

By better understanding of the relationship between their company’s assets and the industry they operate in, executives from emerging markets can gain a clearer picture of the options they really have when multinationals come to stay.

What’s your strategy for managing knowledge?

A company’s choice of knowledge management strategy is not arbitrary – it must be driven by the company’s competitive strategy. Emphasising the wrong approach or trying to pursue both can quickly undermine a business.

The authors, Morten Hansen, Nitin Nohria and Thomas Tierney, warn that knowledge management should not be isolated in a functional department like HR or IT. They emphasise that the benefits are greatest – to both the company and its customers – when a CEO and other general managers actively choose one of the approaches as a primary strategy.

New strategies in emerging markets

Once viewed as “less developed countries”, emerging markets (EMs) now offer a significant growth opportunity for multinational corporations (MNCs). Because they differ dramatically from mature markets, however, they raise new strategic questions that traditional marketing frameworks do not resolve.

While traditional models argue against first-mover advantages in EMs, additional sources of advantage – favourable government relations, pent-up demand, marketing productivity, marketing resources, and consequent learning – can make early market entry a desirable option. The authors provide a framework, oriented toward demand rather than risk, that enables companies to assess long-term market potential, identify business prospects, and predict potential benefits. Using the framework, companies can categorise EMs on the basis of short- and long-term potential.

Once an MNC decides to enter a market, it needs new frameworks to guide product and partner policy decisions. The different patterns of market development in EMs imply that, contrary to conventional models, companies can expand the market rapidly, should offer a combination of global imported brands and locally made joint venture brands, and use EMs to test product innovations. The design and management of relationships with local distributor partners is the most critical challenge for executives. In the areas of industry experience, direct selling, local autonomy, and exclusivity, experienced MNCs are adapting the approaches employed in developed markets in ways that are appropriate for emerging markets. As MNCs continue to gain experience in EMs, marketing models will have to change to incorporate the new practices and new learning that are coming from markets.

Real strategies for virtual organisations

Current models of organisational strategy and structure fail to meet the challenges of the information age. Based on field study, the authors conceptualise an architecture, or guide, for virtual organising that focuses on the importance of knowledge and intellect in creating value. Information technology lies at the heart of this business model for the 21st century.

The authors’ approach incorporates three interdependent vectors: customer interaction deals with new challenges and opportunities for company-to-customer interactions; asset configuration focuses on creating and deploying intellectual assets while sourcing physical assets from a complex business network; and knowledge leverage is concerned with opportunities for leveraging diverse sources of expertise within and across organisational boundaries.

Each of the vectors in turn has three stages. Stage one focuses on task units such as customer service, purchasing, or new product development.

Stage two focuses on co-ordinating activities to create superior value.

Stage three focuses on the interorganisational network to design and leverage interdependent communities for innovation and growth.

Each vector raises a distinct series of questions for managers. The overall challenge for companies is to harmonise the three vectors and to undertake external benchmarking when experimenting with different approaches to design.

Recovering and learning from service failure

Effective service recovery is vital to maintaining customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty, which contribute significantly to a company’s revenues and profitability. Yet most customers are dissatisfied with the way companies resolve their complaints, and most companies do not take advantage of the learning opportunities afforded by service failures.

The authors provide a research-based approach for helping managers develop a comprehensive service recovery system.

To encourage dissatisfied customers to complain, leading firms set performance standards, often through the use of guarantees; communicate the importance of recovery to employees; train customers in how to complain; and use technological support offered through customer call centres and the Internet.

In resolving problems, companies need to focus on providing fair outcomes, procedures, and interactions.

Firms promote organisational learning by documenting and classifying complaints; useful methods include creating internal complaint forms, accessing complaints made to front-line employees, and categorising customers who complain.

Finally, companies need to generate additional information on service quality, disseminate it to those responsible for implementing improvements, and identify those process improvements that will have the greatest impact on profitability.

Customer conflicts are inevitable. A powerful service-recovery strategy can turn these conflicts into opportunities to improve performance and raise profitability.


A technology readiness checklist

How do you know if your company is ready to tackle a initiative?

The Seybold Group presents a checklist designed to ensure that all factors have been accounted for when developing a website developed specifically for an organisation’s customers.

Shortchanging your business

Seybold argues that too many organisations have institutionalised software development behaviour that promotes higher costs, less flexibility and poor customer service. Why is that? When a strategic application is sorely needed, executives are watching the calendar, not the software quality meter. What is the value of better information about software quality? How can this information be acquired? How can information about defects improve IT’s productivity and business flexibility?

Case study: outsourcing business services on the web

Seybold profiles Ceridian Employer Services and focuses on its efforts to move many of its key business processes to the web. Although not exactly a household name nor well known for its pioneering activities in cyberspace, this study is an excellent example of how mainline businesses are beginning to use Internet-based communication services for competitive advantage. This study is part of the Seybold Group’s Best Practices in Electronic Commerce.


Simpler software + the Internet = fewer consultants

This is a terrifying piece that features comment from top executives at Andersen Consulting and from a wealth of independent software vendors and manufacturers.

At present the implementation sector represents $5bn worth of Andersen Consulting’s business. This feature profiles how the software market is changing and, in some cases, stripping away the need for consultants.

Will the trend towards simpler software spell doom for consultants who have always trusted to the complexity of software? This is a free-of-charge article and is well worth a look for anyone interested in the future of software implementation.


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

This research looks at how, for the consumer, it no longer matters who is selling the goods and where the point of sale is, as long as the value is correct. The findings of Who Will Own The Customer in the 21st Century are available from Robin Athey at Deloitte Research on or telephone +212.492.3791

The Economist Intelligence Unit and PwC has linked up look at the future of the world’s investment managers. The research looks at the future of the industry by interviewing executives and senior officers in the industry. The full report called Tomorrow’s Leading Investment Managers can be purchased online from the Economist Intelligence Unit on

Logica looks at the changing face of working practices and the effect this has on the telecommunications industry. The research contends that increasing mobile working practices mean that telecoms carriers will need to offer a holistic service to ensure customer loyalty. The latest idea being that the companies must know everything about their customers in order to develop a highly targeted marketing campaign to increase market share. The research, How The Customer Can Become King is available on the Logica website.

Making Customer Loyalty Real looks at methods of encouraging customer loyalty in the manufacturing industry, in the face of increasing global competition. The report looks at the experiences of executives in over 35 countries. They concede that insufficient market, customer and competitor research will result in problems in the future. The report looks at the problems and offers solutions.

Contact Peter Koudal at Deloitte Consulting on +212 492 3770 or e-mail at

Website of the month: www.dfin/index.html

The Digital Financier offers information for financial professionals with a slant on all things digital. And very useful it is too. The site contains a vast amount of information in a readable and accessible format.

With updates on world news and their effect on the financial community, the site, for example, has information and relevant site links about the war in the Balkans. There is a large archive section which provides a synopsis on news events with a financial and digital bias.

A major selling point for professionals is the up-to-date information that is offered on the US stock market. There is a service to check the current status of companies, which also provides addresses of various Internet stockbrokers. This can take a while to load so patience is required.

For those interested in surfing for general business information look no further, this site has a wide choice. The @work section is designed to help those looking for up-to-date data on various subjects. For example, there is a Y2K section which admittedly offers fairly basic information, but has some great links such as guides to getting free software and the legal implications of the bug. This @work section is great in terms of the array of information that it offers.

Help is also available for those looking to pursue a new career path, with many links to companies and vacancies on the web, although there is a slight US bias to this. You can also subscribe to the on-line free newsletter which deals with recent digital information.

Despite the US slant to this glossy, well packaged site, it offers a great deal of useful information. In many respects it is a staging post for other sites. However this allows you to pick out the best bits of the web with little fuss. By picking up on the best links the site is an invaluable resource.

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