Archive for December, 2008

Changing Environment of Business

December 1, 2008

Change is one word which the world has continuously witnessing. This change could be good to some, but be bad for someone else. Everything change, the human beings, their dressing sense, their behavior at times, the nature, the climate, the technology, the process and thus the business. Thus the challenge is here is how to continue when things are really changing? This question remains a bigger challenges for organizations and companies more specifically as they have not only to survive, but rather keep increasing their profits, their margins, their business overall. The business environment is constantly changing.

Everyone today be it small or big located in different geographical location, wants to make a mark on the global map and thereby expand their business. The challenges here are more in addition. Thus it becomes important not only to study the business but also to study these challenges in advance and also to overcome them at the earliest. This is the toughest part which McDonalds experienced when it came to India.

McDonalds could have been a brand at US or elsewhere in the world, but for it occupy the market was always difficult as burgers and several other items were not a household items in India. People here are used to food items like Idli’s, dosa’s, roti’s and so on and then you have burgers!! One cannot come to terms with burgers, but McDonalds didn’t run away from India. Infact they are on expanding spree and are opening many franchisees throughout India, of late. McDonalds have taken up this challenge of addressing the change in the Indian environment and have adapted themselves as per this environment, which is the key to their success throughout the globe. Thus the way the organizations adapt and modify their behavior will determine the success of their business.

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Communicating Strategically

December 1, 2008

In the last five decades or so, there has been a tremendous change in the way the business has run and thereby the business environments have consistently changing. These changes can make or break the company’s fate. If any company cannot adapt itself to the changing environment, it can cease to exist. How is this situation going to be handled? What is the solution or approach taken by a company to this change? What constitutes this change? Is it a geographical phenomenon? If so, how do you overcome these hurdles?

Strategic communication has become a prerequisite of effective communication process. Whether an organization is trying to boost its reputation through corporate advertising, to communicate effectively with employees about the incentives it would offer, to convince shareholders that the company is worth of investing capital, to persuade its customers to buy its products and be loyal to the company, communicating strategically is very important.
Add to this situation the power of media, the different new mediums and technologies through which most of the communication takes place. How are things going to be communicated amongst people and moreover, the right information? The question list can be endless, but companies need to come out with a solution to address not only the changing business environment but also communicate them correctly.

Similar was the position of MindTree consultancy when it started in the late nineties. MindTree consultancy was just another organization that provided software service as a consulting activity to its clients in India. Now the bigger challenge for MindTree consultancy firm was not to establish in India, but to communicate strategically to the whole world that it had the best of the breed at its disposal, that’s when they devised a strategy where they put to use its resources, spread the word of mouth about its Indian method of work, their truly modest principle work culture and thereby enhancing the company’s reputation. Once this was achieved, MindTree never had to look back.

Communication Theories

December 1, 2008

A theory is a framework of principles and statements devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena. Communication is an information related behavior. Communication theories can be traced back to the age of Aristotle. He addressed the communication process and developed the Art of Rhetoric which seems to be a base for the communication theories that were developed in due courses. The Art of rhetoric developed by Aristotle emphasizes on three components in the communication process- speaker, message and the listener. He represented the communication process taking the form of an orator who targets the mass audience.

The first communication model was a simple sender-channel-message –receiver model. Over a future period of time the emphasis on obtaining feedback was added to this communication model.

An excellent example of the Schramm’s communication model in the real world would be in the classroom. The teacher encodes his/her message from a source (knowledge) to the students. On the other side, students send their feedback to the teacher with respect to decoding of the message i.e. clear understanding of the teacher’s lecture or message.

Another example of the application of the Westley Maclean model is with respect to a news agency. A news agency finds out the signals or sources available in the environment and delivers the message as one message while reporting on the television. If the public in question have sufficient information and knowledge about the topic of the intended news ,they can question the news agency incase such information is not true or partially true which acts as a feedback.

Communication Technologies

December 1, 2008

Communication technologies play an important role in acting as the medium of communication. Communication technologies enable the users of information to understand the processes and practices effectively. In the constantly changing business environment, modern and more effective communication technologies have evolved in the market place. In the past, communications technologies such as phone, fax, telegram were extensively used because the information handled by the corporations were limited. With the emergence of globalization and creation of more number of multinational corporations, a wide array of communication technologies have evolved to support business practices, processes and programs.

Many corporations have constructed a corporate intranet to enable the employees and the managers to share information within the company. These corporate intranets provide sufficient information to the employees with respect to the work methods, policies and programs. The internet has also enabled employees and managers of corporations to work at their homes and report necessary information on projects to their clients. It also helped the workforce at the corporations to access necessary information related to their work from all corners of the world. It has also ensured effective communication process through emails.

In addition to the above communication technologies, corporations have also installed wireless networking technologies to ensure that the employees can obtain any information required from their superiors or senior managers of the corporation.Google has incorporated high transparency in its intranet network. Through the Google intranet, the employees at Google can see their colleagues work performance and accomplish collaborative work methods at the workplace.

Corporate Communication Relevance

December 1, 2008

Corporate communications can be defined as a communication process that takes place within the organisation as well as between the organization and its constituencies. The subject of corporate communications has become extremely important for organizations to hold a strong corporate culture and value system. Corporate communications have also enabled organizations to reveal their corporate identity to their stakeholders and create an everlasting reputation in the minds of their constituencies.

Today, corporate communication department in an organization plays a very important role in performing a wide array of functions. Effective corporate communications is possible only when the internal communication process is built. Corporate communication also enables organizations to have understanding relationship with the media who acts as an liaison between the company and the public in reporting public information about the company. Nowadays, many media relation agencies possess professional expertise to handle media relation functions on behalf of their clients.

Since its inception, Canarys Automations Ltd, a software company in Bangalore had entrusted the responsibility of corporate communications function to its human resource department. As the workforce increased over the years, the human resource department was facing information and work overload. The executive vice president of human resources therefore, transferred some of the senior human resource executives by creating a corporate communication department which now looks after the functions of internal communications, media relations and crisis management. The human resource department looks after the functions of payroll, labor relations, employee recruitment and selection, performance appraisal and manpower planning

Identity, Image and Reputation

December 1, 2008

A company’s identity is the visual manifestation of the company’s reality as conveyed through organization’s name, logo, motto, products, services, buildings, stationery, uniforms, and all other tangible pieces of evidence created by the organization and communicated to a variety of constituencies.

An organization’s image is the function of how constituencies perceive the organization based upon all the messages it sends through names and logos, and through self presentations including expressions of its corporate vision. While image can vary among constituencies ,identity needs to be consistent. With increasing globalization and management of limited resources by companies, the products have become homogenized leaving image and identity as powerful differentiators.

An effective corporate identity includes an inspirational corporate vision, careful corporate branding with respect to names and logos and consistent self presentation. Many organizations manage their identity process through a sequence of steps such as conduction of identity audit, setting up identity objectives, development of designs/names / prototypes through the use of outside consultants or designers, launch and communication of the new identity and finally, dealing with the implementation of the identity program.

The best company that I can think about when speaking about image or identity or reputation is Bajaj auto limited. Everybody who has grown up in India would sometimes in his life hum about the tunes of Bajaj ads, for Bajaj would always score on Indianess. Bajaj would portray their products as by the Indian & for the Indian, which scored heavily amongst the India middle class. This was more than enough for the public as Baja became to be known as a symbol of an Indian.

Corporate Advertising

December 1, 2008

The word advertising, rather, advertisement or ads was one subject which would always get me thinking in my childhood days. I always used to ask my father why one would advertise their products on TV’s to which he would explain few facts, which I never used to understand, but I started loving them.Come to think of it now, it’s such a huge concept that can increase the sales revenue for a company or it can build the image of an company or a product or it could just be another place for awareness.

Corporate advertising can be defined as the use of media, at an expense, that would conjure up the image of a corporation as a whole rather than its products or services. This is not the same as a product advertising, where more emphasis is given on the flagship product that a company owns and the uniqueness that it has to offer. Paid corporate advertising is the easiest and fastest way that a company can communicate its identity to its constituencies. Corporate advertising should be strategic with respect to future growth of the company and consistent with respect to company’s vision. Both product and corporate advertising should reflect an unified strategy. Corporate advertising is the responsibility of the company’s corporate communication area whereas product advertising is the responsibility of the company’s marketing departments .Corporate advertising should present a clear identity for the organization based on a vigilant assessment of its overall communication strategy.

The Tata brand as such is one organization, which has wide range of products & services such as group of hotels they run, different businesses, software service that they provide, manufacturing cars, trucks and buses and many more. Even though the product from them are always unique, the emphasis is more on the brand Tata, and not otherwise. By doing this, Tata always communicates their messages to a wide range of audience in a quick and efficient manner and thereby improving their overall financial situation.

Media Relationships

December 1, 2008

One of the most important invention of the mankind has been printing. Just come to think about it and you would realize what it really means. For their would have been no print, there would been no knowledge base, no facts recorded, no documentation of your country, your culture, and the human mankind, such is the power possessed by this invention.

With respect to companies, media is relatively a new term, that the media becomes an important source of communication where many entities involved, like the investors, suppliers, retailers, and consumers would get source of information about a particular company, organization or institution. As such this could again can make or break a company for, if there is a false information about your company which is portrayed in the media, you are finished, and people would no longer would be interested in buying anything from your company or any of the products manufactured by your company.

With the advent of televisions, you can see the impact that the media can have on your organization.Thus more and more onus is on the companies maintaining a good relationship with the media and thereby wiping out any negative news on their companies name or image. Various methodologies and technologies have been devised companies over time to maintain this relationship and thereby carry a good name amongst everybody, which is really a tough job on hand.

One such company that has always maintained this media relationship is TCS. Tata Consultancy Service is the India’s largest software service provider where over 100,000 people are working. During the world.com disaster, almost all the companies started this policy of firing people as and when they wished, but this was not the case to be with TCS. In spite of the tough times, TCS openly came out and told in the public that it did not accept this idea and that it would not go on firing its employees, which won the hearts of many Indians. Even now I keep hearing people talking about this incident and this goes to show the impact that the media plays in the world.

Internal Communication

December 1, 2008

Internal communication in the 21st century is meant as creating a corporate culture which acts as an effective mechanism in driving the organizational change rather than merely concentrating on memos, circulars, video conferencing and other types of internal communication channels.

For years customers or clients were the main focus of importance of managers, but things are no more the same, for internal communication plays an important equally in any organization. Recognition to their employees has yielded them the success where an organization puts major emphasis on maintaining a good relationship with the employees and treats them as the company asset, thereby increasing the employees trust in the organization they work.

Now managers make sure they know whom they are working with and treat them as equally important asses of the company. This proves to be fatal, as this could win the heart of the people and thereby win their trust and make them feel they are indispensable, which increases the overall productivity of an organization. This is what I call typical Win-Win situation, where a company gains a lot from its employees and also an employee reaping benefits from the organization that he works with, for the hard work that he has put in.

Many a times it so happened that people working in Vodafone would not understand their relevance and importance not that they were unaware of themselves, but rather the way this company put it across them. The management realized this the crude way, when their overall productivity decreased. The management tried to figure out where the company had gone wrong. The research work by the management to figure revealed that a lot of work was to be done on the gaining the employees confidence, which effectively was carried out with more and more Internal communication taking place and employees seeing from their own eye that major emphasis was on them and this did the trick for Vodafone.

21st Century trends

December 1, 2008

As the name defines, the 21st century is one of the important era in the history of the mankind for reasons known to anybody and everybody. This century is a century where world shrinked and came to be known as Global village where people and process were no longer restricted to confined and particular geographical location, rather the world looked as a small place where people were connected to their friends, families and relatives via various technologies be it the telephones, mobile phones, Internet and many more ways. For this century represented changes in anything and everything.

One such change in the mindset and attitude of human beings is the subject that is going to be discussed in this blog (one more by-product of Internet!). In this century, the trend that we are referring to is basically the paradigm shift in the mindset of aspiring students, professionals towards their work or place of work. Who wouldn’t be interested in working in the state-of-the-art institutions or organizations getting a handful of salaries and working with the best of the breed peers, but of late we are seeing that these are no more a criteria for selecting one’s job place. The new generation is no more running money or the brand image that a particular organization has as the main factors rather this generation is willing to work with aspiring companies, upcoming companies or even choose a smaller companies as their choice, which over the time proves excellent for their career. What has brought about this change amongst this generation is what you would be thinking about?.

The reasons are various and are logical. Think about this and probably you yourself could figure it out. This can be best illustrated with an example. Infosys is one example that comes to my mind every time that I think about this trend. In 1981, came together a bunch of college mates who had a vision which was different from the rest and they struggled all their way and created a brand called Infosys. The company had its shares of challenges and had difficult times in their endeavor in establishing Infosys. Infosys now is the one of the biggest software service provider in Asia. They have many dubious records to add to their quiver. In the 1990’s though, Infosys was just another company. Infosys used the strategy of acquiring bright intellectuals from the colleges and universities through campus placements. Not many dared to do the thing, that majority would, even still, regret of having not joined this organization. The very few who dared to join Infosys were a were not a bunch of mediocre students but few top of the crème who understood what Infosys could provide to them, as it was their at stake. And the end result of this is that today Infosys has more than 100,000 people working at their state-of-the-art campuses not only in India, but throughout the globe and thereby creating the brand Infosys. Today any parents would say with pride that their son’s or daughter’s are working at Infosys. You could say to anybody that you are an Infosian, such is the respect commanded by Infosys.

Infosys is just an example where certain thinking and decision not only changes the people working in that organization, but also creates brand image, the organization itself, where there is win-win situation for everybody. This applies to me as well, as I am not always for the bigger organizations, but rather I always look for companies which have vision, a defined objective and goals, where I am ready to even sacrifice few rupees at the cost of growth. This is the sacrifice that I make to become a complete man.

Crisis Communication

December 1, 2008

Crisis is one word which can describe what the world will head to in the near future, not that there is terrorism everywhere and blasts here and there, but because global warming is something which proves that there is nobody or no thing that is bigger than the Mother Nature itself. But this is not the subject of debate or discussion here; rather it could spell doom for an organization if they don’t involve this as an important part of their communication.

Basically the word crisis has its roots from the Greek which meant to decide. As it says decision making thus becomes the important aspect of any organization or person today, thus emphasizing on the leadership and decision making and also this crisis communication at crucial times can dictate the fate of the company if not handled with delicacy and wisdom.

Crisis communication, put short, is the situation of an organization when things have gone wrong for them knowingly or unknowingly and how they either react or proactively handle this situation. One such incident that I always can remember for my life is when we read in the newspaper that there were unacceptable level of pesticides found in coca cola and Pepsi that had become a part of my daily intake.

At colleges, at the road side, at home and everywhere coke, as fondly known, would be at my arms length and then I read that Coke is no more safe to drink!. This came as a rude shock to me and I could see this everywhere, but I saw that rivals like Coca Cola and Pepsi came together for the first time and stood united in the claim that was made at them. This was something that not many could have even heard of. Every day I saw in newspaper and television channels the various facts given by these companies that the allegations made by one of the research center was baseless and that the company did stick to the world standard.

In the hindsight, when I hear or think of the word crisis communication, I always think of Pepsi-Coke coming together in handling such a tough situation, otherwise these companies would have ceased to exist in India.