Thursday, January 17, 2008

Management Consulting May Not be the Right Answer!

Well, I was thinking to write this article for long and the day has finally come. After months of research, I could finally frame a thought.
There are many words used in the Market for almost similar concepts. Some of them I could find are:
1. Analytics Consulting
2. Management consulting
3. Strategy consulting
4. Market Research
5. Strategy Sciences
6. Business Analytics
7. Vertical Solutions Consulting
8. Predictive Sciences
9. Decision Management

Many of these terms are used in similar way at the sole discretion of the user. Anyone can use a term to put his story forward.

Here are some definitions from Wikipedia.
-- Business Analytics is a term that describes how organizations gather and interpret data in order to make better business decisions and to optimize business processes.
-- Management consulting refers to both the industry, and the practice of, helping organizations improve their performance, primarily through the thorough analysis of existing business problems and development of plans for improvement.
-- Market research is the process of systematically gathering, recording and analyzing data and information about customers, competitors and the market. Its uses include to help create a business plan, launch a new product or service, fine tune existing products and services, and expand into new markets.
-- Enterprise Decision Management, commonly abbreviated "EDM", entails all aspects of managing automated decision design and deployment that an organization uses to manage its interactions with customers, employees and suppliers.
-- Strategic management is the art and science of formulating, implementing and evaluating cross-functional decisions that will enable an organization to achieve its objectives.
-- The term business intelligence (BI) dates to 1958. It refers to technologies, applications, and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information and also sometimes to the information itself.
-- Other terms are still not available on Wiki.

In a typical scenario all these concepts should be talking and helping each other, as all these concepts are slightly over-lapping in functions and fully on goal achievement. All of these work to help run business smooth and catch available opportunities that market throws.

What I find interesting is, they hardly talk. All functions independently except there are some stances of companies going beyond their boundary and asking help from others. I remember one, Mackinsey Co. has started their Data Analytics center in India which is known by the name Mackinsey Knowledge Center.

Beyond this, there are stances of Analytics Companies going forward and helping clients to form Strategy with a separate exercise called the "Strategy Sciences".

My questions are:
Is this the correct way to do? Are these concepts being used correctly by the companies?

My take is NO. Companies become over aggressive and sometimes fail. Thanks to bad strategy. The stances of fail may be --
1. Ford buying Land Rover and Jaguar.
2. Current sub-Prime Mortgage crisis in US.
3. Harley Davidson coming up with no sound bike and failing.
4. Coke's new formula, that almost killed Coke brand.

All of these failures in different ways, but inside the reasons were same. The cause being, Management Decisions taken by following by gut feel without knowing the underlying realities.
Probably all of these decisions were suggested from the Management Consultants and the consultants might have given the best possible suggestion based on the availability of information to them. Problem: Lack of information!

Behind these failures, the reasons could be:
1. Weak Sales Force
2. Lack of proper Marketing Effort
3. Poor Infrastructure to support the decision
4. Non availability of Experts
5. Improper pricing
.................. there could be many.

There is no short cut to success and companies have to understand this. If they have to grow in a proper way, vision and ideas, and the execution of those ideas is necessary. But equally is to know the basics of the company and the market of the industry it is in.
Probably a good Market Research, Analysis of operations, Good Customer Segmentation and a good Pricing Model could have saved these failures.

The customers are humans and they need to be treated in a different way. I would say in a special way. The Rational Thought sometimes fail as they don't connect to the customers. The answer is simply to have some emotional factor into it.

Once again, my favorite picture about Management Consulting, Analytics Consulting and Market Research Consulting. Lets go with it.
I recommend a Rule for less probability of failure:
1. Know your operations first (make good MIS System) and streamline the process
2. Your your strengths and weaknesses; know your past operations, current customers and their behavior (Analytics)
3. Know the Market and the Competitors; know also the choice of current customers in the market (Market Research)
4. Explore what can be done and show your gut feel (Strategy Planning and Management)
5. Go to the Market with full force (Proper Execution) -- and back to 1.

Business is after all its all about taking risk, but in place of more risk its better to take the Calculated One.

1 comment:

Nancy Arter said...

Wow! Great post! Your thoughts are right on and I agree that it takes thought in all three of these areas to pull off a great business move. I really liked your point (that is all too much forgotten) that you must treat consumers as humans -- not pawns to your business strategy (I may be paraphrasing there). I think that is exactly where companies most often miss the boat.

Excellent post -- we'll be featuring it on our weekly favorite posts on our blog today (

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