The Network Way.
By Robin Trehan (B.A, MIB, MBA)
Sunday, 20th November 2005
The formulation of strategies and the design of management and information systems to take advantage of international opportunities and respond to international threats are continuously changing.

A global revolution is underway and most of the organizations have started experiencing a social upheaval that involves everyone. It is shaking every place of work, quakes the foundations of our biggest institutions and our smallest groups, and even sends quivers into our homes and communities.

It swirls through organizations of all sizes, in all sectors, in all countries and turning organizations upside down, and inside out. As information technology (IT) is becoming the cornerstone of every organization, it is bringing the changes in the organizations structure and the management practices. The key factors for this are

1. Falling borders

2. Growing cross-border trade and investment

3. The rise of global products and global customers

4. Privatizations

5. New competitors in the world market

6. The rise of global standards of quality and production

7. Growing sophistication of information technology

Moreover, the traditional business environment is changing rapidly as customers and businesses seek the flexibility to change trading partners, platforms, carriers, and networks at will. Many companies are looking outside their organization as well as within when shaping their business strategies. These activities include establishing private electronic connections to customers, suppliers distributors, industry groups, and even competitors, to increase the efficiency of business communications, to help expand market share, and to maintain long-term viability in today's business environment.

The key success factors are also changing and all companies have to basically self introspected to maintain competitive edge. This can be achieved by:

  • Broaden Product Line: The ability to continually improve their product portfolio to meet changing customer requirements.
  • Efficient manufacturing processes: Continued improvements on their manufacturing processes to keep its yields at high levels, lower costs and increase manufacturing efficiency.
  • Maintain strategic alliances: Successful alliances with software companies.
  • Open to change in anticipation of changes.
  • Continually grows by cannibalizing own sales and retains customers while making efforts to capture new segments.
  • Maintain investor confidence 
  • Flexibility in SCM with reference to the market condition so as to have a flexible production schedule reduced inventory, shorter lead-time, and advanced levels of quality.
  • Close integration in the back end back-end operations — product design and development, procurement, production, inventory, distribution, after-sales service support, and even marketing  
Figure 1: Top Five Competitive Priorities
Most organizations are operating in the electronic age; one obvious indicator is the proliferation of connections with other organizations. They take many names - "strategic alliances," "Joint ventures," "outsourcing partnerships," and "flexible business networks," to name a few linking customers, suppliers, and competitors. When executive, staff, and line colleagues form multiple, overlapping teams, they too are exploding in numberless cross - functional projects, horizontal corporations, and virtual enterprises.

Networks allow you to build on what you have. They enhance your relationships with suppliers, anticipate customers' needs, and allow entry to new markets with the competition. Networks allow you to cooperate and compete at the same time. Without both competition and cooperation, you cannot succeed in turbulent times that require flexibility, nimbleness, and regardless of the size of your enterprise.

Robin Trehan is a managing director and vice president at CBK Business www.cbkfamily.com & National Hotel Exchange www.nationalhotelexchange.com. He can be reached at robin@cbkfamily.com

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