The Changing Global Business Environment
The winds of change intensify as the 21st century comes closer, changes of all kinds -- political, social, technological, cultural, organizational and managerial are accelerating worldwide. One term much used to encompass all these changes is globalisation.

The interconnection of communities and orgainsations is taking place as a result of these changes.

New technologies, especially information technologies not only accelerate productivity but also consumer awareness, while stimulating increases in consumer spending while also making consumers more discerning.

This in turn stimulates the need for much faster responses in management both of production and of marketing. While production can be anywhere globally real value addition takes more because of innovation, quality and timeliness.

Consumers have greater needs, and greater interests and are more demanding. The only thing consumers have less of, is time and patience.

The Emerging Challenges

A consumer driven global economy in turn creates some new challenges for businesses. Some of these are :

  • The need of the flexibility and optimization of sourcing. The supplier or manufacturer must look for the best combination of price, quality and speed of delivery. With the explosion of information technologies there is integration of the supply chain, where retailers share information with distributors, with manufactures and with souring agents domestically and globally.
  • With global interaction the need to optimize distribution heightens decisions such as whether to distribute via a wholesale network or direct or retail. An improved distribution strategy can add value and provide competitive advantage
  • Enhances need for responsiveness to the consumer. In term of developing more speed in collecting and analyzing consumer and market information to design and build products according to quickly changing consumer tastes and shortening the distance from consumer demand to market delivery.

The New Paradigms In Management Philosophy

To meet with these challenges calls for a new mind set on organisational change as organisational change is complex, and it will not lend itself to a quick management fix. A people-based approach to organizational change is critical. Organisations need to move away from the structured approach to organizational change so common in management theory. Features such as organizational structure, hierarchical, job design and policies imposed from the top with the focus on structure, not people. Externally imposed rather than internally inspired will not succeed as the culture of the organization beneath and surrounding this type of management and organizational practice will remain relatively impervious to change”.

Hence organizational changes focused on down-sizing, rationalization and restructuring will not succeed. The need is for global outlook, broad cultural change, and deeper communications as the problems created by implementing change in the mechanistic approach will result in employee resistance, communications failure and will create a credibility gap with the leadership. Thus in this global and highly competitive arena, for companies to be effectively they will have to develop a new relationship with “Human Resources”. Individuals will no longer accept being treated as employees, but rather seeking to become “customers” for their services as they plan their own careers. Thus organisations will have to nurture their employees & encourage self development, if they wish to retain them.

The New Consulting Dimensions

Therefore, consultants too need to understand that business fundamentals are changing, and that new paradigms are emerging.

This is critical for management consultants who facilitate wealth creation, because they are the means by which new knowledge, new ideas, and new technology are spread through organisations and increasingly through the global economy.

Consultants will have to adapt to these sweeping changes by taking responsibility for increasing their own expertise and knowledge, and consulting skills.

Management and organizational performance will increasingly depend on the advice and help resulting from close interaction between consultants, research institute academia and the business community.

It is thus evident that the consultant and the consulting firm cannot be all things to all clients or all people. It will be ever more essential that a consultancy practice clearly define its market niche and develops services that set it apart and with ever improving capabilities

The Need For Client Consultant Partnering Clients will need assistance in moving from the industrial age to the global age. They will need to understand the processes best suited to achieve this change. This may require consultancies to have the ability to envisage the future, to understand the processes involved in making transformational changes, to be able to work in less structured environments, to operate globally, to use knowledge based systems. Consultants will increasingly move from a task to a process-orientation. Consultants will increasingly partner with clients on a mutually agreed upon course of action. Both consultant and client will need to have a clearly defined role. It will be necessary to determine which part of the transformation is the contribution of the consultant, and which is the contribution of the client.

This will become increasingly necessary as clients will demand more long term participation by consultant in issues that need to be dealt with, it may be necessary for consulting firms to merge or form alliance or partnerships while establishing partnering relationship with their clients to effectively fulfill their role in the emerging global scenario of the 21st Century.

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