Business Process Re-engineering

Business process re-engineering is the analysis and re-designing of workflows and business processes within a firm. Business process re-engineering is also known as business process redesign, business process change management, or business transformation. Typically Business process re-engineering happens in 4 sequential steps , in a firm, as described below.

  1. Typically, the first step for a BPR is planning for the same. First of all the deliverable of the process under scanner needs to be clarified. Then it is important to define the scope of the project. Often it is seen that projects fail to have a well defined deliverable and scope, and this creates major management problems. Then within the project, identifying the critical mini-projects and their major drivers is crucial for success of a business process re-engineering operation. After the major drivers are identified, then the focus should be to identify the slack resources, which are less utilized and possible bottle-necks in existing processes.
  2. In the next step, a deeper study of the existing business processes is required. In this stage, normally the focus remains on gathering internal information about the processes, map existing capabilities with resources and more important map processes with under-utilized resources and slack variables. This often helps to determine the bottle neck in the operation of the macro process. Then a mapping needs to be done of the IT capabilities of the process with the process stages and internal capabilities (of the work force)
  3. In the third step, major process issues need to be identified. Often it may appear that there are multiple optimal solutions. Process gaps need to be identified and areas of major restructuring needs to be identified. Also focus should be to identify and nullify slack resources at every stage.
  4. Then a cost benefit analysis of all the possible optimal solutions needs to be conducted thoroughly. While analyzing optimal solutions, it is extremely crucial to investigate inter-process and intra-process linkages which may get disrupted during the implementation of the business process re-engineering plan. Finally a road-map or a blue-print for the implementation of the best business process re-engineering plan needs to be chalked out. Then a case study is developed in the last stage to set tangible targets during the business process re-engineering process implementation.

The processes for a successful BPR has been described thoroughly pictorially in the diagram below.

After a business process re-engineering project is completed, a major challenge that the management faces is that of change management. Organizations have a culture and an identity of their own. After major changes happen through the implementation of a business process re-engineering plan,major disruption of the culture and organizational harmony is likely to happen if substantial measures are not taken for managing the change. Substantial effort has to be taken by the top management to drive home the change, without coercion. Extra efforts on training the work-force and regular intervention of the top management to facilitate the process will create a major impact on the success of a business process re-engineering process. Efficient change management is the biggest factor which causes a business process re-engineering exercise to be significantly successful.

Finally, it is important not to forget the main goals for which the business process re-engineering was conducted in the first place. The project needs to be managed and metrics should be driven in place to ensure the proper management of the project post re-engineering. Also it is important to remember that performing BPR as a one-off exercise with limited strategy alignment and long-term perspective is unlikely to deliver any real benefits for the firm.

Do let us know what you feel about the article.

Have you read this article : 4 Cs of Marketing – The Advanced Marketing Mix

Top Business Schools of India

The top business school rankings of India is again out. The rankings are based on the survey done buy Pagalguy, the premier platform where B-School aspirants, alumni, faculty and industry forms a part of the ranking. We agree more or less to the rankings brought out in this survey. The B-Schools have further been color coded in bands, based on our perception. The bands are made based on the perceived potential level of openings that a student coming out of these institutes may have, once he joins the industry. It has been assumed, that the opportunities within a similar band to top jobs or top career prospects, will be homogeneous for students within a band, in an abstract manner.

Those interested in what India has to offer in terms of Business Schools should not feel intimidated if they are located far from the area. It may not be as difficult as one would initially assume to plan a trip to India on the internet. There are plenty of travel services, like Expedia for example, that allow tourists (or anyone wishes to study abroad) to easily reach their destination while potentially saving them some money and time in the process. Simply looking at what is available is completely free, so don’t hesitate to look into a travel plan. It could quite literally change the course of one’s career.

1  (IIM Ahmedabad) Indian Institute of Management –  Ahmedabad  
2  (IIM Calcutta) Indian Institute of Management – Calcutta, Kolkata  
3  (IIM Bangalore) Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore  
4  (ISB Hyderabad) Indian School of Business Hyderabad  
5  (XLRI Jamshedpur) Xavier’s Labour Relations Institute Jamshedpur  
6  (IIM Lucknow) Indian Institute of Management – Lucknow  
7  (FMS – Delhi) Faculty of Management Studies – University of Delhi, New Delhi  
8  (SPJIMR, Mumbai) SP Jain Institute of Management and Research Mumbai  
9  (IIM Kozhikode) Indian Institute of Management – Kozhikode  
10  (IIM Indore) Indian Institute of Management – Indore Indore  
11  (MDI Gurgaon) Management Development Institute, Gurgaon  
12  (IIFT, Delhi & Kolkata) Indian Institute of Foreign Trade New Delhi & Kolkata  
13  (NITIE Mumbai) National Institute of Industrial Engineering Mumbai  
14  (JBIMS Mumbai) Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies Mumbai  
15  (SIBM Pune) Symbiosis Institute of Business Management – Pune Pune  
15  (NMIMS Mumbai) Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies Mumbai  
17  (SJMSoM, IIT Mumbai) Shailesh J Mehta School of Management – IIT Bombay Mumbai  
18  (IMT Ghaziabad) Institute of Management Technology – Ghaziabad Ghaziabad  
19  (TISS Mumbai) Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai  
20  (XIM Bhubhaneswar) Xavier’s Institute of Management Bhubhaneswar  
21  (DMS – IIT Delhi) Department of Management Studies – IIT Delhi New Delhi  
22  (MICA Ahmedabad) Mudra Institute of Communication Ahmedabad  
23  (SCMHRD Pune) Symbiosis Center for Management and Human Resources Development Pune  
24  (IIM Shillong) Indian Institute of Management – Shillong Shillong  
25  (VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur) Vinod Gupta School of Management – IIT Kharagpur Kharagpur  
25  (TAPMI Manipal) TA Pai Management Institute Manipal  
27  (MBA, IIT Kanpur) Industrial and Management Engineering – IIT Kanpur Kanpur  
28  (KJ Somaiya, Mumbai) KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research Mumbai  
29  (SIIB Pune) Symbiosis Institute of International Business – Pune Pune  
30  (IRMA Anand) Institute of Rural Management Anand  
31  (IMI Delhi) International Management Institute New Delhi  
32  (SIBM Bangalore) Symbiosis Institute of Business Management – Bangalore Bangalore  
33  (IIM Ranchi) Indian Institute of Management – Ranchi Ranchi  
34  (Nirma, Ahmedabad) Institute of Management – Nirma University Ahmedabad  
35  (Great Lakes, Chennai) Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai  
36  (IIM Raipur) Indian Institute of Management – Raipur  
37  (GIM, Goa) Goa Institute of Management Goa  
37  (IIM Rohtak) Indian Institute of Management – Rohtak  
39  (DMS – IIT Madras) Department of Management Studies – IIT Madras Chennai  
40  (XIME Bangalore) Xavier’s Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Bangalore  
41  (SIMS Pune) Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies – Pune Pune  
42  (LIBA Chennai) Loyola Institute of Business Administration Chennai  
43  (FORE, Delhi) FORE School of Management New Delhi  
44  (DMS – IIT Roorkee) Department of Management Studies – IIT Roorkee Roorkee  
45  (BITS Pilani MBA) Management Group – Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani  
46  (MBE, Delhi University) Master of Business Economics – University of Delhi New Delhi  
46  (MIB, Delhi University) MIB – Delhi School of Economics New Delhi  
48  (We School, Mumbai) Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research Mumbai  
49  (LBSIM Delhi) Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management New Delhi  
50  (IFMR Chennai) Institute for Financial Management and Research Chennai  
51  (XISS Ranchi) Xavier’s Institute of Social Service Ranchi
51  (MHROD, Delhi University) MHROD – Delhi School of Economics New Delhi
51  (ICFAI Hyderabad) ICFAI Business School – Hyderabad Hyderabad
54  (MFC, Delhi University) Master of Finance and Control – University of Delhi New Delhi
55  (FMS – BHU, Varanasi) Faculty of Management Studies – Banaras Hindu University Varanasi
56  (BIM, Trichy) Bharathidasan Institute of Management Trichy
56  (UBS Chandigarh) University Business School Chandigarh
58  (SIMC Pune) Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication – Pune Pune
58  (SRCC GBO, Delhi) Sri Ram College of Commerce (Global Business Operations) New Delhi
60  (IMT Nagpur) Institute of Management Technology – Nagpur Nagpur
61  (IIFM, Bhopal) Indian Institute of Forest Management Bhopal
62  (SITM Pune) Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management – Pune Pune
63  (DMS – NIT Trichy) Department of Management Studies – NIT Trichy Trichy
64  (SIMSREE Mumbai) Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education Mumbai
65  (SCIT Pune) Symbiosis Center for Information Technology Pune
66  (DSM – DTU, Delhi) Delhi School of Management – Delhi Technological University New Delhi
67  (BIMTECH, Noida) Birla Institute of Management Technology Noida
68  (PUMBA, Pune) Pune University MBA Pune
69  (SIOM Nashik) Symbiosis Institute of Operations Management – Nashik
70  (Christ MBA, Bangalore) Department of Management Studies – Christ College Bangalore
71  (ICFAI Mumbai) ICFAI Business School – Mumbai Mumbai
72  (VIT Vellore) Vellore Institute of Technology University Vellore
73  (NIBM Pune) National Institute of Bank Management Pune
73  (NL Dalmia, Mumbai) NL Dalmia Institute of Management Studies and Research Mumbai
75  (IMDR Pune) Institute of Management Development and Research Pune
75  (ISBM Pune) International School of Business and Media Pune
77  (ITM Navi Mumbai) Institute for Technology and Management Navi Mumbai
77  (DMS – NIT Durgapur) Department of Management Studies – NIT Durgapur Durgapur
77  (Alliance, Bangalore) Alliance Business School Bangalore
80  (IISWBM Kolkata) Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management Kolkata
81  (ICFAI Gurgaon) ICFAI Business School – Gurgaon Gurgaon
82  (SDMIMD Mysore) SDM Institute for Management Development Mysore
83  (Osmania University MBA, Hyderabad) Osmania University College of Business Management Hyderabad
84  (Amity, Noida) Amity Business School Noida
85  (SPM, Gandhinagar) School of Petroleum Management Gandhinagar
86  (NSB Delhi) NIILM School of Business New Delhi
86  (SIESCOMS, Navi Mumbai) SIES College of Management Studies Navi Mumbai
88  (BIMM, Pune) Balaji Institute of Modern Management Pune
89  (IP University MBA, Delhi) University School of Management Studies – Indraprastha University New Delhi
89  (NICMAR Pune) National Institute of Construction Management and Research Pune
91  (MET Mumbai) MET Institute of Management Mumbai
91  (IMS Indore) Institute of Management Studies – Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalala Indore
93  (IFIM Bangalore) IFIM Business School Bangalore
93  (AIM, Kolkata) Army Institute of Management Kolkata
95  (KIAMS Harihar) Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies Harihar
96  (NIASoM Pune) National Insurance Academy School of Management Pune
97  (IPE Hyderabad) Institute of Public Enterprise Hyderabad
98  (Asia-Pacific, Delhi) Asia-Pacific Institute of Management New Delhi
99  (PSG, Coimbatore) PSG Institute of Management Coimbatore
100  (SCMLD, Pune) Sadhana Center for Management and Leadership Development Pune

Global financial & economic crisis in 2011

The financial crisis in late 2000, sometimes referred to as the Credit Crunch or the Global Financial Crisis, is generally considered by many economists to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The financial meltdown resulted in the collapse of super Financial institutions with power status, the bailout of mega-banks by the central governments, and plummeting stock markets around the world. However, in 2011, the world may be witnessing something which may be equally big, or maybe even bigger.  The WWII economic crisis and conditions are still extremely fragile. Probably turning short-term debt into long-term loans was the biggest trigger for this economic recession in 2011.

Some may call me to be somewhat more pessimistic in my outlook than is required, but here are my reasons to believe so.

  • The economy in US is in dire straits. The housing sector is yet to recover and high unemployment is troubling the super-power. The US is drowning in negative equity and job-less homes. Tax cuts may be short term evasive measure, medium and long term fiscal reforms may be necessary to pull US economy through this period. The recession in 2008-2009 is still making its presence felt in US, by depleting the reserves of the economic super-power. The tremble caused by BNP Paribas and Lehman Brothers is yet to subside full. Recently, US has been downgraded from its rating by Standard and Poor. The economists are suggesting long term reforms in banking,  such as raising capital ratios and switching from wholesale to retail funding, while filling in short-term gaps in capital. However, the banking industry would be subjected to a slow recovery in this track.
  • Japan has lost its AAA rating long back. The growth prospects for the once economic super-power is pretty poor.  Currently Japan’s national debt actually in excess of 200% of its GDP but its bond yields remain extremely low, since the growth prospects are not looking bright. As an effect of this, Japanese production has declined by over 15% in recent times.
  • The major debt that Greece is facing and the crisis thereof  not cured by the massive Eurozone and IMF bailout. The current bailout support may expire by 2013, and there has been no major financial restructuring in Greece. While the Greece government is sold out to Germany, this is even a bigger cause of concern because now the government will not even be able to print bills to increase inflation to depreciate its own assets. With the huge debt on Greece, the rest of EURO-Nations are equally strapped in the rear to come out with policy changes that may liberate them from this dire straits.
  • The crisis in the Irish national banking sector far from over. Even after receiving a staggering level of bailout assistance from the EU and IMF to cover the country’s insolvency, thanks to the Anglo Irish Bank and the other minor Irish banking institutions, the Dublin decision makers were forced to inject nearly $5 billion into Allied Irish Banks, another bankrupt institution. Ireland policy makers really need to figure out how to service this public debt, without triggering a shiver down its economy.
  • Europe in general is under severe economic stress. Without a major restructuring of debt, progress seems almost impossible. Debt burdens may continue to spiral upwards, and in several EURO using nations a debt write-down is very likely. German, French, and British banks hold most of the national debts, and a shiver there may trigger a collapse of the balance which apparently is resting on a spindle.
  • China, which seemed apparently less touched by the economic crisis in the west, is suddenly increasing its interest rates in an almost desperate effort to control price inflation. While China, the manufacturing super-power of recent times, strives to control the inflation within, this is almost an indicator of less attractive options to invest, outside the country, and even maybe within the country. Are we witnessing a scenario where the market demand has been saturated and the manufacturing sector is growing wary of the same?
  • India, which is evolving as an open market economy is not free from the crisis. Although Agriculture is still India’s most engaging “career”, most of the recent economic growth has been fueled from the services sector (IT, ITeS, Banking, or even tourism in few states). The welfare of these industries thrive heavily on the welfare of the counterparts in USA and to an extent in Europe, whose needs the service. The IT and ITeS alone has an average exposure of exceeding 52% to US markets and 34% to European markets, as per a report in Financial Times. On an average the services sector enjoy an exposure exceeding 82% to European and US markets. The meltdown of the economy in the western powers may be sufficient to trigger one in India.
  • With the advanced economies under such severe stress, emerging economies, may be slightly  insulated from major impacts, which can cause a huge eruption of their regular life. Worldbank says that the financial stress for the emergent economies may be over. However, since the development in these economies are heavily dependent on foreign direct investments from the economic super-powers, the development is likely to hit a stagnation. Is this an indication that the next financial tremble will arise from the developing economies?

Who knows how deep we actually are in this mess? Commodity prices are coming down, but that is probably the only brighter news in this downcast. Do let us know what you feel.

Apple Inc – The Past and the Future

In the past few days, Apple CEO Steve Jobs resigned and Tim Cook has taken over the company that has held the leadership position in terms of technology development, innovation, admiration, brand value, customer engagement, customer satisfaction and across a multitude of other dimensions. While the technology geeks across the world are concerned at this change in leadership, there is a bigger concern about the change in business dynamics the world may witness with this change of an era.


However, it is time to embrace the change in leadership and look forward to the Future of Apple Inc, and hope that this leader in technology will continue to delight us as always and Tim Cook will take the company to achieve greater heights in all dimension. The technology major is currently in Dire Straits due to ongoing conflicts regarding IPRs and other legal issues. The the new Chief Executive Officer of Apple see the firm through these troubled waters? What would be the change in the focus of the company and in business strategy? The management gurus across the world will be keeping their fingers crossed in anticipation.

Both men have recently given noteworthy commencement speeches sharing their life’s wisdom with  those as the beginning of their careers. Both offer great wisdom and are worth reading for every technology and management enthusiast. Both these speeches can have a lot of motivational effects on professionals who are still undecided on their careers. Check them out.

Steve Job’s Commencement address and Tim Cook’s Commencement Speech
I hope our readers will enjoy reading these speeches.

Signing off.

Arpan

Strategies for SAAS providers

Today, increasingly software providers are increasing the focus of selling information technology products as services. Thus there has been a spurt of adoption of SAAS (Software as a service) delivery models. However, switching to a SAAS delivery model requires the adoption of newer strategies, to maintain competitive advantage and sustained growth.

So what should be the major focus of entrepreneurial ventures offering technology services as SAAS?

A major success pointer for SAAS business model is pricing their services. Normally a company, which uses SAAS to provide any service should have a 2 tier pricing strategy, a part based on usage, and a fixed (normally initial setup costs). The focus of a SAAS provider should be to provide the benefits of economies of scale at both ends of potential stake-holders. So for a SAAS e-commerce provider, pricing is of key importance. A major successful pricing strategy would be one based on the value of the technology to the user, i.e. value based pricing strategies.

Next another major issue is reaching out to potential customers and then keeping them. Technology firms keep entry barriers through technology platforms, and so an e-commerce portal may continue using a company’s tech, even if it is higher priced, because costs of switching may be too high. The associated platform or hardware licensing issues may arise in cases of switching. Thus customers, once acquired, often are acquired for life, unless major customer dissatisfaction creates contingent situations.

Another major challenge for entrepreneurial ventures is moving forward in the PLC curve. While innovation is a must for information goods, there is a cost associated with development. However, once converted customers, are less likely to accept newer pricing strategies easily. Thus, conveying additive value of the new innovations to the customers becomes another challenge. Thus entrepreneurial ventures often start very successfully, but yet, flicker and die out, while attempting to move up the PLC curve.

Another major concern for entrepreneurial ventures arises from slow evolution of the multi-tenant architecture, which most SAAS providers use as a basic platform to deliver their service. Horizontal scaling strategies create a barrier to develop and adopt newer technologies and platforms that will provide increased operational benefits both for the client and service providers. Virtualization, while lowers cost, is essentially a barrier towards innovation, and thus the question whether multi-tenancy is necessary for SAAS delivery models is a major topic of controversy. This becomes even a bigger factor for entrepreneurial ventures with less deeper pockets.

Finally, another challenge for new service developers becomes protecting IPRs. Since the SAAS model ensures that there to a great extent of customization at the end of each client, the scope for differentiating and maintain the differentiation, is somewhat diluted by the intangible nature of services. Thus new innovations are often plagiarized by competitors and this really hits hard to new ventures. While developing IPRs increases cost (which often is a very sensitive issues in entrepreneurial ventures) , it should be understood it also protects the firm’s services from being plagiarized.

Do let us know if you feel there are more serious areas of concern for SAAS providers, in their focus to develop sustainable business strategies.

e-Commerce Business Strategy

With the world full of entrepreneurs, increasingly adopting web based business ventures, a key issue to discuss becomes what is the long term business strategy? Many of the firms, after a promising start are succumbing to the death trap, and fail to grow to a level to sustain the investments made on them. Is it a dogma that haunts them and limits their growth beyond a certain level? Stagnancy in start up ventures is a major concern for most new businesses. Indeed, beyond a point, businesses fail to extend their initial aspiration to compete at a larger level. So what makes some of the firms succeed and sets them apart from the rest. Do we really know what makes the super stars click? Continue reading “e-Commerce Business Strategy”

Knowledge Management – The way forward.

The source of a sustainable competitive advantage for any organization is derived from the access and subsequent exploitation of resources, and today, knowledge is being heralded as the most important of such resources that is available to organizations (Drucker, 1993). For the larger and mature organizations, often process capability knowledge is the primary source of advantage, whereas for the organizations seeking to grow and out-grow competition, in addition to process capability knowledge, knowledge management focus would also include market knowledge, rapid product development, or the creation of knowledge through research. However, it is important to recognise that even mature organizations need to create knowledge to avoid falling into the stagnancy pit. This is exactly what knowledge management attempts to provide more succinctly to the organizations. Knowledge management aims are to create conditions under which competitive advantage can be maintained, by creating,  acquiring, retaining and exploiting the knowledge for the welfare of the organisation.

Knowledge management is the way organizations today are attempting to make the otherwise intangible knowledge tangible and distributable, throughout the organization, in search of the illusive competitive advantage. Today, in this evolving world where insights on data or business intelligence plays an extremely crucial role for the sustainable development of an organization, knowledge management has become a key area of focus.

Beckett et al. (2000) has provided an interesting framework by which many organizations are actually managing their data within with a growing focus to manage the data outside the organization also. Through research, the authors highlight how effective knowledge management can provide a wider scope of continuous improvement to obtain benefits for the parent organization, by providing higher quality information, better quality information, removing information asymmetry, and subsequently increasing the levels of organisational expertise which can be applied to it to create substantial improvements for the organization.

The sole focus of organizations today is to convert internalized tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, so that it can be commoditized and less dependency is there on an individual for being the source of knowledge. With a high attrition rate in organizations across industry, it becomes extremely pertinent that knowledge once created within the organization stays inside the organization and does not become unusable once the creator of the same changes base, within or outside the organization. That is the sole objective of the initial knowledge management systems.

For improving the knowledge management practices within the organization, companies today are increasingly adopting rewards systems, collaborative systems, post-project reviews, knowledge mapping, establishing communities of practice with cross-project learning platforms, creating expert directories, competence management systems, best practice transfer, mentor-mentee relationships, knowledge fairs, formal knowledge repositories, measuring and reporting intellectual capital, knowledge brokers, social media and social network mining systems.

While it is important for organizations to understand the importance of knowledge management systems, even one aspect that many organizations often overlook is using the knowledge outside the boundaries of the organization, but within the value chain. Realizing this, the recent focus has been the development of customer knowledge management systems, where customer tacit knowledge is use to co-create value for the customer in the best possible way, and finally value for the company. Another group of stakeholders who are being introduced into the knowledge management realms are the supplier networks, where knowledge management is often used to create otherwise non-contactable value for the stakeholders. The way forward for knowledge management systems into the future is to capture the tacit knowledge outside the organization but within the value chain (and within multiple stakeholders) to create value for both.

Today, it is pertinent that all the senior executives of organizations realize the potential benefits of effective introduction and management of knowledge management systems, that can benefit the organization. Today, while organizations are facing increasing levels of competition due to the effects of greater competition, knowledge management provides an important way for organization to utilize the most valuable resource available to them, to gain competitive advantage.

4 Cs of Marketing – The Marketing Mix

R.F. Lauterborn (1993) proposed a 4 Cs classification to address the growing focus of marketing strategist on the consumer. While the 4 Ps framework for defining the marketing mix has been popular for decades, the four Cs have gained in terms of importance, considerably in recent times.

The 4 Cs consists of CONSUMER, COST, CONVENIENCE and COMMUNICATION.

The roots of the 4 Cs of marketing can be traced back to the classical 4 Ps marketing mix. However, with the onset of database marketing, the focus has shifted in marketing from a consumer transactional view-point to a consumer relationship viewpoint (and very recently consumer engagement). However, the basic focal strategic issues remain unchanged at its very core.

The details which a manager designing a marketing mix using the four Cs needs to focus on are as follows:

  • Clients / Consumer (customer) is the king. No longer can products be developed and pushed to the consumer in the hope of conversion of a purchase decision. Gone are those days when consumers had to buy products to satisfy needs for a simple lack of substitute. The market is over saturated with great products. Consumer behavior needs to be studied thoroughly from the product development phase itself. The attributes of any product should be almost built-to-order in current times, and substantial inputs should be taken from primary market research.
  • Pricing is crucial. The pricing strategies undertaken by any product development company should keep the perceived value of the product, to the consumer, in mind while deciding a pricing strategy.  Effort should be made to estimate a customer’s  tradeoffs  among  multiple attributes in a product so as to arrive at the perceived total value while  pricing  a  multi-attribute product.
  • Convenience of the service delivery or product purchase location is crucial. The place utility often is a differentiating factor in the success stories of many a promising product. It becomes extremely important especially if the product purchase is a low engagement decision making process, like that of purchase of day-to-day products.
  • Communication is crucial.  As opposed to the initial focus of brand promotion, communication of the brand personally so as create a brand awareness and brand cognition is extremely crucial for a sustainable pull strategy.  Every brand is perceived to have a personality. Communicating the same using proper communication channels becomes crucial for the success of any marketing campaign.

While the focus of designing a marketing mix has shifted from the 4 Ps to the 4 Cs, it is extremely crucial to understand that the underlying core remains the same. The major shift has been due to a paradigm change of focus from the product or service design to understanding the customer. This is where a 4 Cs strategy scores over the 4 Ps or 7 Ps strategy.

By the way, did you read our article on the 7 P’s of Services Marketing?

A discussion of 3 core issues in Information Systems Research

Information systems research looks at the interface of three aspects of the firm, Technology, Process and People. In this essay, we look at the issues discussed by three of the highly cited papers in Information Systems research.

The article “A Framework for Research in Computer Based MIS” by Blake Ives, Scott Hamilton, Gordon Davis talks about 5 major research models by “Mason & Mitroff”, “Chervany, Dickson & Kozar”, “Lucas”, “Mock” & “Gorry & Scott Morton”. It also forecasts a model to generate future potential hypotheses for research. In the Mason & Mitroff Model, the focus is on defining the IS as A person of a certain Psychological type who faces a problem within some organizational context for which he needs evidence to arrive at a solution, where the evidence is made available through some mode of presentation. In the research by Chervany, Dickson & Kozar, the focus is on the isolation of dependent and independent variables which determine effectiveness of an IS.  Lucas formed a descriptive model of situational, personal & attitudinal variables & their impact on usage of the system & performance of the IS user, where behavioral issues have been studied in depth. Mock studied how behavioral constraints on system developers and users, impact the usage of the system and their individual performances. Gory and Scott Morton focused on how an IS provides information for management decision making. The authors of the paper designs a model with 3 IS environments, 3 IS processes & 1 IS subsystem, existing within an Organizational & External environment. On the basis of interaction between the variables of these types, the author divides IS research into broadly 5 types, 1 to 5, which again are subdivided into multiple subtypes. The framework focuses on providing a basis to formulate a hypothesis which is relevant to MIS research.

The article “The Identity Crisis within the IS Discipline: Defining & communicating the disciplines core properties” by Isaac Bensbasat & Robert Zmud, focuses on what is IS research all about and how to make it a distinct area of research. He focuses on how to build IS research by investigating closely related areas than distant issues. He states the 3 requirements for IS research, that of claimed central character, claimed distinctiveness and claimed temporal continuity required for IS research to evolve as a discipline. He stresses on the need for an identity in the MIS field by obtaining cognitive & socio-political legitimacy. The authors are concerned that the Interdisciplinary nature of IS cause application of varied theories from multidisciplinary backgrounds which is important for building theory but may dilute the focus of research. They express their concerns of errors of exclusion of core constructs & errors of inclusion of non-core construct in studies of IS and IT artifacts. The core properties focusing on the managerial, methodological, technological, operational, behavioral issues and the impacts of IT should be studied in IS research, in the context of the nomological net. IS research should also investigate relationships involving 1/more core constructs only, and heavy reliance on theories of reference disciplines to achieve legitimacy should be minimized.

The article “MIS RESEARCH: Reference disciplines & a Cumulative tradition” by Peter Keen also focuses on suggesting a way in which MIS research may evolve into a classical discipline having its own identity. He states that the concept of having microeconomics & computer science as the reference field limits the scope of MIS research. The researchers should focus on defining the dependent variable in their study and build on the work done by predecessors. The research should now focus on building theory from multiple reference disciplines to help IS keep evolving as a discipline and not build frameworks only. The research should not be dependent on technology evolution but focus on management, information and systems issues. Since MIS as a discipline has strong implications for practice, the focus on theoretical research should not be diluted. The focus of the researchers should be to publish in quality IS journals. Research should focus on the management of the use of technology to benefit business processes and resolve technical, managerial & organizational issues.

All 3 papers focus on mentioning the scope of IS research and what researchers should focus on in the future. They stress on the need for building theory to make MIS evolve as a discipline, and not be too dependent on reference disciplines for the purpose. Also they stress ways to evaluate if a research is actually investigating issues closely related to IS or not. Also they stress on how hypotheses formulation should be done for research in IS and what should the constructs aim to achieve.

Values and Attitudes: a case study (2)

Our values are principles or beliefs that serve as guidelines to help us make decisions about actions, behaviors and life choices. They reflect what we value and how we feel about the rightness or wrongness of things. Attitudes are how values are manifested in our actions and thoughts to others. ATTITUDES are our feelings towards certain ideas and dictate how we react in concrete situations.

In this case study, we analyze the values and attitudes in Lagaan, the bollywood superhit movie of 2007. (Part 2)

Identifying Instrumental Values.

Bhuvan’s value of collectivism was in his accepting the challenge.Also Captain Russels individualism and superiority complex was portrayed when he decided to actually lay down the challenge to bhuvan, and this was clearly not appreciated by his superiors.The raja’s values of Dharma over Karma was expressed when he was asked to consume meat,in return of the favour asked.The collectivism of the villagers was expressed when they united to fight against the wrong that was being done towards them.The uncertainty avoiding values of the villagers were expressed when they did not want to tke up the challenge.Then Deva Singh Sodhi’s instrumental values came in the act in his joining the team,against his terminal values of fighting against the british.The values of the caste system became evident when bhuvan invited kachra to play,but eventually bhuvan managed to ignite the collectivism of the villagers. Collectivism was again portrayed when Lakha’s Individualistic act of betrayal became public. The values of winning,at the cost of ethical sportsmanship,was portrayed by the british players during the game.

Biographical Characteristics:

Age:  The impact of seniority has been seen throughout the film, especially in times when Bhuvan tries to speak in defiance of the british raj, but the senior villagers prevent him from doing so.When bhuvan actually first started to play the game, an incident occurs, when the ball moves towards gauri, and when she tries to give it back to him, she is ordered by her father to tend to household activities. Throughout the film, it is seen that the important positions in the village social architecture, like the mukhiya, is held by senior persons.It is not as if seniors do not let the juniors to speak out their perspectives and views, but the status of seniors still remains. In fact, there has been several occasions throughout the movie when the youth can actually make the senior citizens see reason although initially they were less inclined to do so. The age factor has been key in deciding the values of the individuals, with respect to their openness. The youth had been actually portrayed to be more upto the challenge, and ready for a change, while the seniors were not really ready to accept changes in their thought processes.

Gender:  It has been observed through out the film that feminine characters has been portrayed as those with feelings, and although the society of the village has been purely patriarchal in terms of holding the key positions like the mukhiya,women has been associated with  respectful persona that cared for the rest, and saw to it that the family needs were taken care of. They tended to the old, weak and the injured and sick people.It was especially illustrated when during game practice sessions gauri came with the meals for the players, and even coerced them to eat.During the practice sessions, when the players got bruised, under the guidance of Harikaka, they tended to the players. The behavior of Elizabeth has been a sharp contrast to that of her brother, who was arrogant and unkind, to the core and expressed masculinity.

Caste: Caste system was prevalent in those days, and that also took a centre stage in the later half of the movie when Bhuvan invited kachra to play in his team. Kachra was referred to as being untouchable or “Achut” and the rest of the team initially was very adamant about leaving him out of the team. It took the inspirational character of Bhuvan to actually convince the villagers to move away from the caste bias and play unitedly and portray collectivism.

Race: A scene flashes to the inner eye is when throughout the movie, the Indian villagers were mistreated by the british raj as being native and insults were hurled at them at random and they were severely penalized even for small “mistakes”. The Indian villagers were shown to be beaten up, and Captain Russel went to the extent of saying that the natives would for ever live under the soles of the britishers. This shows the complete disregard of the human being and the racist feelings and attitudes that took centrestage when the plot of the movie unfolded. Even the british loyalists were not free from insults, and towards the end of the match, it was seen that even the most loyal Ramprasad revolted due to the constant differential behavior that was meted out to him on a regular basis.
Our values are principles or beliefs that serve as guidelines to help us make decisions about actions, behaviours and life choices. They reflect what we value and how we feel about the rightness or wrongness of things.

 

Values and Attitudes : A case study (1)

Our values are principles or beliefs that serve as guidelines to help us make decisions about actions, behaviors and life choices. They reflect what we value and how we feel about the rightness or wrongness of things. Attitudes are how values are manifested in our actions and thoughts to others. ATTITUDES are our feelings towards certain ideas and dictate how we react in concrete situations.

In this case study, we analyze the values and attitudes in Lagaan, the bollywood superhit movie of 2007.

First, an understanding of the needs pyramid is essential for further appreciation of the case analysis.

The need pyramid typically drives the values and attributes of individuals. The characters  of lagaan are also not free from the effects of this hierarchy of needs, first hypothesized by Maslow.

Values and Attitudes: The Flow in Lagaan.

The attitudes in the movie become evident when an argument starts between goli and bhura, reflecting their affection for their children and poultry respectively.Then gauri professes negative affective attitude towards Lakha.The oncoming clouds spark behavioral and affective attitude driven actions amongst the villagers starting a celebration.Then the behavioral component of bhuvan’s towards the british player become evident at the first british-villagers meet.Then the villagers expressed negative cognitive attitude towards bhuvan’s acceptance of the challenge although gauri and his mother showed a positive cognitive attitude.Then the villagers showed an affective attitude when bhuvan’s first shot hit the temple bell.The value to stand by a villager, if threatened by external forces became evident, when bhuvan was then attacked by the other village. Elizabeth portrayed the value for equality of chances when she decided to help the villagers understand the game. Then Ismail’s cognitive attitude became evident on seeing the “gori mem” assisting bhuvan.The instrumental value of deva singh sodhi when he came to play, as against his terminal value of “war” against the britishers.Then the affective value of elizabeth gets portrayed as she confesses to bhuvan,she loved him.Similarly, bhuvan professes his love to gauri.Bhuvan’s behavioral component of equality got reflected when he invited kachra to play in the team,against the negative cognitive attitude of the villagers,which he later managed to change.On the D-Day the affctive attitude of the raja against the british became evident.Then when the villagers came to know about Lakha’s betrayal, their cognitive and affective attitude became evident.The positive cognitive attitude of the british officers towards the village team’s performance,became evident when the game was in progress.During the game, the cognitive,affective and behavioral attitudes of bhuvan’s team became evident,towards the tactics of the Britishers and their own reactions.Finally, the display of affective attitude when the village team won the match.

Transformation of Attitudes.

Initially the villagers were very hesitant in supporting bhuvan,but the first shot of bhuvan rang the temple bell changed their veiw,which continued seeing the constant enthusiasm of bhuvan and the support from the “gori mem”.Slowly bhuvan’s self belief and enthusiasm was infused among the villagers.Gauri and bhuvan’s mother was always there to support bhuvan from the very beginning,although in the patriarchal society,they did not have too much say.The support from the “gori mem” was instrumental in arising the feelings of the villagers to stand up against being wronged.Amidst  all this positive changes of attitude, the negative changes in Lakha was striking,when his attentions toards gauri was neglected,who in turn only cared for bhuvan,and this caused him to betray his fellowmen to Captain Russel.In the midst of all the challenges,the villagers became a family,leaving aside their initial values for inequality on the basis of caste,and seniority on the basis of age.Then the game started amidst the emotionally charged atmosphere.Then the villagers came to know about Lakha’s betrayal, and although they initially reaction threatened his life,later on bhuvan’s insistence and lakha’s apology,he was given the chance to prove his loyalty, which he did.Then came the real emotional outburst when the village team won the match thus completing the transformation.

Business Cartoons – Work Life Balance

Are you maintaining a good work life balance? Most kids of working professionals have a degree of insecurity, despite the time you may think you are carving out for them. Do remember, work life balance not only keeps the harmony in your home but also improves the longevity of hard working professionals.

What do you prefer to do as a professional? What are your priorities in your life?