It is not enough for global businesses to know that in coming years China's economy will move away from an over-reliance on investment and toward more consumption. They also must know that the potential costs and benefits of rebalancing the world's second-largest economy are high and will affect industries not only domestically but also around the world.
Despite decades of experience in China, many organizations still struggle to identify and select executives who will make a tangible impact there. Companies can do better by focusing on two crucial skills"”an ability to read the external environment and an understanding of what makes employees tick"”and on a tough truth: a generational challenge is making the talent equation more complex.
The payoff from joining the big-data and advanced-analytics management revolution is no longer in doubt. The tally of successful case studies continues to build, reinforcing broader research suggesting that when companies inject data and analytics deep into their operations, they can deliver productivity and profit gains that are 5 percent to 6 percent higher than those of the competition.
The use of highly scaled, shared, and automated IT platforms"”known as cloud computing"”is growing rapidly. Adopters are driven by the prospects of increasing agility and gaining access to more computing resources for less money. Large institutions are building and managing private-cloud environments internally (and, in some cases, procuring access to external public clouds) for basic infrastructure services, development platforms, and whole applications. Smaller businesses are primarily buying public-cloud offerings, as they generally lack the scale to set up their own clouds. But as attractive as cloud environments can be, they also come with new types of risks.
To assess organizational alignment, here are three simple questions for your business leaders: What are your company's ten most exciting value-creation opportunities? Who are your ten best people? How many of your ten best people are working on your ten most exciting opportunities?
You thought you did everything right"”gathered market research and consumer insights; brainstormed, prototyped, and tested a promising new idea; developed detailed financial models and a solid marketing plan. Yet your company's new product or service didn't perform as expected. What did you overlook?
In many companies, marketers have been first movers in social media, tapping into it for insights on how consumers think and behave. As social technologies mature and organizations become convinced of their power, they will take on a broader role: informing competitive strategy.
It's no mystery why companies emulate their most successful peers. Tried-and-true approaches often seem preferable to starting from scratch, whether for developing new products or running efficient supply chains. The quest for such methods went global during the 1980s and 1990s as European and U.S. companies sought to retool their operations by transplanting Japanese factory practices, such as kanban and just-in-time production. Management consultants - ourselves included - naturally facilitate the process by extolling successful companies as models from which others can learn proven practices that reduce risks.
Measuring the performance of people, especially managers and senior executives, presents a perennial conundrum. Without quantifiable goals, it's difficult to measure progress objectively. At the same time, companies that rely too much on financial or other "hard" performance targets risk putting short-term success ahead of long-term health-for example, by tolerating flawed "stars" who drive top performance but intimidate others, ignore staff development, or fail to collaborate with colleagues.