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A race to the middle in India

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Interesting insights into Indian Management Consulting practice by B J  Richards, am reproducing his blog here

http://www.sourceforconsulting.com/blog/2014/09/16/a-race-to-the-middle-in-india/

By B.J. Richards

The Indian consulting market, far more than most others, has a pretty dramatically polarized service offering. At one end of the spectrum, you have technology consulting, which makes up just shy of half the market. On the other, you’ll find strategy consulting, which is responsible for another quarter of all the work done here. And there’s very little happening in between.

Until recently, that was OK – India’s young businesses were generally willing to spend on help with their IT systems and in forming their master plan but were determined to do everything else in house using elbow grease rather than pricey external help. But as Indian businesses mature and seek to compete in the global marketplace, their needs are becoming more sophisticated, and those in-between services that once seemed like frivolous luxuries are fast becoming necessities.

In theory, this should be great news for consultants, and indeed it is – opportunities to build the business abound! But at the moment there’s some doubt as to who will provide these in-between services. In a market where consulting is so much about technology — and in a world where pretty much all consulting services are becoming intimately bound up with the IT function — consulting firms and digital agencies don’t look so different to the average buyer. And India’s businesses, at the moment, may not have a clear understanding of why they should choose a consulting firm to handle their (for example) efficiency project over a digital agency. After all, the client expects its efficiency solution will be technology-led anyway, so why not go straight to a provider that that has technology at its heart?

Somewhat ironically, India’s IT consulting firms have actually done a fine job of moving beyond the back office in their foreign outposts – like in the Nordics, where they’ve successfully added a strategic component to their competitively priced IT services to make a very attractive offering.  But many of India’s larger firms have been so focused on conquering the overseas market that they’ve paid little attention to the growing demand for expanded services back home.  Now India’s digital agencies – which have remained keenly attuned to the Indian market — will likely be trying to replicate what consultants have done overseas, throwing in a bit of traditional consulting as an add-on to their regular services, potentially impressing buyers with their one-stop-shop offering.

Ultimately, India’s consultants and digital agencies could find themselves in a race to determine who will become the preferred provider of those many services that lie between IT and strategy.  For India’s consultants, it is absolutely critical that they convince clients that they understand digital before digital agencies are able to convince clients that they understand consulting.  But it’s going to be tough given that these firms often have little capacity in the in-between space to draw upon.

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Written by schelluri

September 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Internal and External Comms: Let the Walls Come Tumbling Down

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This has been written by William Trout, director of internal communications at BBVA Compass and taken from Linked In Group – Corporate Communications posted by Alejandro Formanchuk

The artificial division between internal and external communications is crumbling. With the emergence of flatter organizations where knowledge and relationships speak as loudly as rank, and where the ‘professional’ and ‘personal’ lives of employees are increasingly blurred, communications hierarchies designed to segment or stovepipe information are losing their relevance. More than ever, employees are taking control of the channels and communicating not just with their superiors and their immediate colleagues, but with peers, friends and strangers down the hall, in the next city and across the world. The smart companies—the ones most likely to engage, empower and energize employees and companies in support of the company mission and brand—have taken note and are providing platforms to support the conversation.

“Providing platforms” in this context means more than incorporating social media into the company communications plan, it means embracing and responding to the seismic changes taking place within the communications space itself, including the ubiquity and power of technology, the desire for community and a recognition that a successful brand must be built from the inside out.

Technology

The genie has been let out of the bottle, if he was ever there in the first place. Email allows any internal message to be launched into public view with the tap of a ‘send’ button. The lesson here is simple: don’t prepare or circulate anything for internal use that you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing outside the firewall.

The inverse is also true: Technology means that employees can no more be shielded from company news reports (ever heard of Google alerts?) unpalatable to top brass than they can be shut off from information floating around the water cooler. And technology itself is of limited use when it comes to regulating the online activities of employees. That nifty filter put in place to block employees from accessing Facebook and other social media sites? It may keep the lawyers happy, but it doesn’t stop employees from accessing these sites through their (often as not company-owned) PDA’s and smart phones, which in turn can be used to blast information outside the company.

Community

But technology isn’t even the central issue. The opportunities and challenges presented by portable hardware simply underscore the cultural shifts taking place in the workplace and in society in general, and the failure of most organizations to meet them. These shifts can be summed up in terms of employees’ desire for community in an increasingly atomized world and the parallel pursuit of authenticity and meaning in work, a search largely undiluted by the effects of our most recent recession.

Jaded audiences—employees among them—are looking for sources they trust. These audiences long ago became immune to advertising, which now functions as an expensive tool with which to build a brand, and are skeptical of the news reports fed by public relations practitioners. They are seeking guidance from like-minded people they trust (virtual communities or ‘tribes’, in the parlance) which can be physical (word of mouth) or more likely, virtual (a LinkedIn group, for example). Increasingly, these virtual groups exist as proxies for the physical communities— family, friends, customer, the car-repair guy—that have long served companies as a source of customers and or potential employees.

Positioning

Positioning a company internally more often than not amounts to cursory efforts to sell a company’s brand promise (often modified for the employee audience) to employees. Traditionally, this function was left to the HR department, which often as not responded with a dreary listing of benefits and ‘employee-friendly’ policies.

Now, thanks to the gusher of information and tools at their disposal, employees can fill that vacuum and to an increasing degree, define that brand promise themselves. This requires demonstrable “proof points”: if a company defines itself as an innovator, it better not have decade-old computer systems. But the most important step for our newly emancipated employees is to take the reins of social media and other communications channels to create a culture (for example, team-focused, curious, service-oriented, optimistic) that reflects their own work spirit. To a great degree, it matters less what that culture is that that they can express it.

Savvy companies realize that employees are their best ambassadors, not an embarrassment to be hidden behind a brick wall. In this environment, companies are wise to direct increased resources (human, financial and otherwise) to their communications functions, so as to better educate and empower employees. This means building a robust, interactive communications platform led by innovative and holistic thinkers able to put social media and other 21st century channels to use in today’s communications landscape, a landscape that’s not artificially divided into traditional internal and external categories, but that is truly dynamic and integrated.