The Nation: Consultants-A Booming Business and Necessary Support
15 January 2007
In the never-ending quest to improve shareholder value, most Nation Top 1000 companies are constantly looking for ways to optimize their processes and procedures.
To help them achieve their overall goals, consultants have been swarming all over Thailand offering the latest cutting-edge business processes and procedures. Armed with these strategies, Top 1000 companies hope to continue being dominant players in this market and at the same time become global-class competitors.
Apirak Jatukanyaprateep , a partner of consulting services at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Jaiyos Co Ltd said that his company has been helping many Top 1000 Thai companies revamp their organization with Business Process Reorganizations (BPR).
“To optimize shareholder value, many companies now realize that they must conduct extensive BPRs to ensure that their business processes and procedures are at optimal global standards,” he said.
A company’s operational efficiency he said has become a major determinant of global competitiveness. “Companies must have processes that allow them to deliver global quality products and services at the most competitive prices,” he said.
Finding effective leaders is also critical for building a sustainable Nation Top 1000 company. As the Thai economy continues expanding, top-flight managers capable of effectively leading Top 1000 companies are in constant demand.
Edwin Sim, CEO of Human Capital Alliance Ltd said that his company is often asked by Nation Top 1000 companies to find new leaders that are capable of taking the company to the next level of competitiveness. “The executive structure of Top 1000 companies has changed immensely in the past decade,” he said.
Many multinational companies, Sim said have in the past decade gradually localized their senior management. “Many companies today recognize that leaders who grew up in a local environment and have attained the necessary large-company business leadership skills have a much greater chance for success,” he said.
Sim added that today many young Thai business professionals are spending their formative business years developing skills and relationships overseas. “In the future, many of these young professionals will be heading major companies in Thailand ,” he said.
With Thailand continuing to hold its own as a foreign direct investment destination, Sim said that although most new companies that come into Thailand may initially build their operating platforms with overseas senior managers, almost all of them have a general plan to quickly localize their operations. “In the past decade, Thailand has developed many capable senior managers who are cross-culturally sensitive and possess the skills to operate global class companies,” he said.
These companies, he added are constantly seeking advice from executive search consultants such as HCA. “In an expanding economy, top-flight senior managers are always in demand,” he said.
Another important subject Thai businessmen discuss today is how best to handle change and remain competitive.
On a recent visit to Thailand, Carl Stern, Co-chairman of Boston Consulting Group told The Nation that keeping our organizations vital and competitive has become a perpetual battle. “Companies have to reinvent what they do and how they do it almost constantly,” he said.
Leaders who run businesses today, he said can never relax and if they want their companies to be vital, they themselves must also be vital. “If they are able to secure some competitive advantage, it will also paint a very large bull’s-eye on their backs,” he said.
Consequently, leaders must never become complacent because today’s business environment, Stern said is increasingly unforgiving. “It has become mercilessly efficient, yet also faster and more complex as globalization and rapid changes in supply and demand take hold,” he said.
According to Stern, in the past many leaders believed a company could enjoy a profitable long-life if it could gain competitive advantage during a business’s growth phase and held on to it while the business matured. “Today we know that when a business matures several things happen,” he said.
Market segments today, he said are increasingly becoming finer and the resulting segmentation allows competitors to attack maturing and often successful businesses. “It very difficult for one competitor to serve all segments,” he said.
As a result, Stern said business has turned into a never-ending fight for survival. “You now seldom see an end-game that includes a long period of stable competitive relationships for mature businesses once growth has slowed. Today you can never have it nailed,” he said.
Consequently consultants such as BCG are always asked to provide cutting-edge solutions that can even help revitalize successful companies.
One of the most difficult tasks for any leader is guiding the organization through today’s ever-continuous changing business environment. Stern said that there are many overriding reasons why companies find it difficult to change. Surprisingly, many companies, he said simply misperceive the consequences of any on-coming threat.
“How could Sony as a leading TV brand miss the whole flat-panel revolution,” he asked. Sony, he said believed so much in it market-leading Trinitron TV that it didn’t believe anything better could be built. Stern said Motorola completely missed the digital age because its engineers really believed that the market didn’t know what was best for itself.
Some organizations, Stern said are able to perceive a threat but don’t have the capability to respond. “The change is so overwhelming that they simply don’t have the heart for it,” he said.
Companies that want to succeed in today’s fast-changing competitive environments, Stern said must engage their employees early. “You need to enlist the whole organization to be alert to change,” he said.
Secondly, companies must know how to separate the wheat from the chaff by focus on one or two critical challenges each year and then focus the organization’s attention on them. “Doing this well, requires constant focused communications on one or two issues,” he said.
With the Thai economy expected to continue growing at record levels during the next several decades, consultants such as BCG, Human Capital Alliance, and Deloitte along with many of their cohorts will undoubtedly continue to offer Thai companies ever-changing cutting-edge products to ensure they maintain their competitive edges.