Business tomorrow: Another day with a difference

B K Mukhopadhyay | Published: March 16, 2018 21:34:47 | Updated: March 17, 2018 22:33:25

At least it is heartening to note that India is aiming to be among the top 30 countries in the world in terms of ease of doing business. India - presently a $2 trillion economy has been hoping to turn the same into a $4-5 trillion one in near future

No doubt, efforts are on. But the situation demands that we have to run not simply crawl. It is being rightly observed that 'while innovators in the US are focusing on top one billion population of the world, Indian entrepreneurs could concentrate on the needs of the remaining 5 billion people living in developing countries'.

Initiatives like 'Skill India' 'Make in India' and 'Mudra Bank' are no doubt turning the hitherto 'tough impression' into an 'achievable one' at least! Recent initiatives, including e-biz portal, Goods and Services Tax, mobile platform for setting up business, and working with states to improve ease of doing business, no doubt reflecting some silver lining. 

Obvious enough, ongoing suggestions like: focusing on India specific problems in areas like waste management and solar power, developing domestic venture capital industry to fund innovations relevant to especially the developing world, are realistic, keeping in view the latent forces in these sectors.

CHANGE IS WHERE THE REALITY IS: On this score, Charles Darwin's words must not be lost sight of. "It's neither the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survive; it is the one most adaptable to change."

What about the ongoing facts and circumstances globally - are we not now living in a chaotic period of transition to a new age characterised by global competition, rampant change, faster flow of information and communication, increasing business complexity, and pervasive globalisation? Thus, the question remains: how to move ahead over time? Is there any short cut way? Why does the small remain small?

The pace of change has become so rapid that it took a different type of firms to be dominant and marked by an entirely new era of business. This new environment is also characterised by 'more far-reaching technological advances, and a consumer who has adjusted to this quicker pace and whose fickle preferences are revised with the speed of a television commercial.'

NOT BEING MYOPIC BUT FARSIGHTEDNESS: Clearly, so far as the business world is concerned, nothing can be taken for granted for survival. Little did we think that the airlines could compete with the railways, the then sanctioned housing loans turning to be a giant sub-prime crisis and great recession would be visiting the biggies at a time when mankind wishes to look at the other plants to find out the existence of the counterpart. So, complexities galore - business space, technologies, processes, business models as well have turned out to be more complex - new characteristics are added frequently [subtracted infrequently]. The dimensions of business space keep expanding, adding complexity and at the same time furnishing attractive new opportunities for those who can successfully navigate in the new environment. This complexity, in turn, also inhibits greater size and greater value creation.

Side by side, in the emerging era of over communication and hyper-competition, people are overwhelmed by choice - choice of information, ideas, products, and services. Information is becoming readily available around the globe at an unprecedented pace. Customers, competitors, and innovators have instant access to each other.  The result - technological change, especially change in information and communication technology, delivered the Information Age and converted it to the Knowledge Age.

The road to success is always topsy-turvy - no question of  preparing omelet without breaking the egg - target success in business and stay ahead of the competition - constantly expanding the network - seamless connections to other parts of the world via one's hubs.

Especially, in this age of innovention (innovation plus invention) the structure of trade vis-à-vis competition has been changing at a fast and consistent rate, where one technology is being replaced by the other treating the globe as an extended village. Intense competition has become a way of life simultaneously with the implicit and explicit risk factors. The challenge is there on one hand to retain the customer, while on the other the fears of unexpected loss arising out of the complex risk factors loom large. That is why, any scanning of international business environment is crucial on the part of an upcoming business venture.

Jet-speeded changes in competition, technology, and workforce values are compelling organisations to search for new and more human ways of increasing productivity and competitiveness. The biggest changes have been due to the impact of information and communication technology. The ability to access vast information resources within a matter of minutes and to communicate across huge distances at ever lower costs and improving quality and convenience is transforming the way people and companies interact. Virtually, it is becoming harder to achieve market leadership and to stay on top.

Time has arrived when we note that even the best of professionals need a team of effective information managers for ensuring an optimal productivity, an effective system of internal control skills to provide inputs to quicken the process of decision making. An attitudinal change is a must in such a context as the nature of business has been becoming more and more complex.

Today's business means, clearly, becoming an international player as nothing of such kind could succeed if the same remains restricted to a frog in the well. It is something like accepting that 'the ship looks good when parked at the harbour' but the same is not meant for remaining so. Business without risk is virtually preparing omelet without breaking the egg.

A CONTINUOUS AND SPONTANEOUS PROCESS: It is undoubtedly a well known fact that success comes out of constant endeavours. Obvious enough, it depends on the very ability to learn from the past [as the same cannot be changed under any circumstances being a part of history], and good anticipation about what is going to happen [being a mystery] and the unpredictable. Since today has rightly been termed as a gift, why not to make use of them so that one becomes more than two.

Business processes must become more mature and the institutions must be able to deliver higher performance ? spatially, temporally, hierarchically and functionally. Obviously, to achieve the same the starting point is designing [the comprehensiveness of the specifications as to how the process is to be executed]; followed by the performers [people executing the process based on skill and knowledge]; owner [persons shouldering the responsibility for the process as well as the results]; infrastructure [information/MIS that support the process]; and of course the metrics [the measures the company uses to track the process's performance].

The reality should not take a back seat - world trade is growing at more than five times the rate of world gross domestic product. But the stern reality is that the ongoing business scenario has been turning to be more complex than ever before. Competition is now based more on capabilities than assets. New competitive dynamics have led to greater instability in the profitability of companies. One technology is being speedily replaced by the other and new products, services, and competitors are emerging with blinding speed. Competitive pressure has been intensifying.

Upshot: the challenges businesses has been facing may be summarized as: uncertainty about the future, financial risk management, monitoring performance, regulation and compliance, knowledge management, competencies and recruiting the right talent, technology, exploding data, and customer delighting, among others..

Dr. B K Mukhopadhyay is Professor, ICFAI University, Tripura, India.

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