power-of-three
Business Management

Lessons From the East: Grow Globally by Harnessing the Power of Three

With China forecast by the World Bank to overtake the US as the biggest economy,  and a country like the UK struggling to achieve a full 1% of growth in the first quarter of the new financial year, western business leaders will be under greater pressure to deliver the Holy Grail of profitable and sustainable growth. With markets such as China and India thriving in the current economy, what can Western businesses do to outgrow their Eastern counterparts? Success will essentially mean being able to beat competition in terms of delivering superior services with cost efficiencies. To achieve this, what can businesses do?

I believe that the best way forward is by harnessing the ‘Power of Three’, as I call it: Efficiency, Innovation and Partnerships.

 

1.        Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency

The first step to achieving growth while keeping a low cost base is to trim the fat. You might think that you’re running a tight ship but there is always scope for improvement and particularly in large global enterprises where every department will run on multiple specialist processes, which those outside of that remit may not be fully aware of.

For instance, finance and accounting has processes like procure-to-pay, order-to-cash and record-to-report and HR has processes like recruitment, payroll, workforce management, compensation and benefits. If the list is added up, the number of processes for a single organisation is in the hundreds, or perhaps thousands for a large business. If any of these are still paper-based or unintegrated, then the costs will be huge. By consulting with departmental heads and moving to an appropriate collaborative, digital platform the efficiency savings will also be huge – freeing valuable financial and people resources to invest into more strategic growth activities. As Pareto’s Law states, 80% of desired outcomes come from 20% of the inputs, so it’s vital that employees have capacity to drill down into that core 20%.

 

2.        Innovate for the Masses

Once your management team has been freed from the shackles of inefficiency, you should focus their attention on innovation.

Globalisation, the recession and the fact consumers simply have more information available to them have certainly created a more crowded and competitive business landscape. Companies are under huge pressure to evolve at pace, stay ahead on a realistic budget and squeeze as much as possible out of what they’ve got. 

To ensure they stay ahead of the game, businesses must be constantly innovating. Take Amazon as the ultimate example; the company joined the internet revolution in 1998 as a simple online book seller before constantly redeveloping (for example, introducing next-day delivery) and reinventing itself (entering the tablet market with Kindle Fire, Amazon Web Services and many other examples) to become the all-encompassing giant it is today. To ensure constant progress, decision makers within companies must ask the right questions about the current state of the organisation, the industry and where they are both heading – seemingly obvious analysis many businesses fail to perform adequately.

 

3.        Turbo-Charge Your Results with the Right Partnerships

The rewards of efficiency and innovation can be amplified even further by partnering with appropriate third parties to hone them.  The average knowledge worker wastes an average of 41% on activities that could be handled competently by others, so outsourcing this to more cost-effective partners seems like an obvious way to boost productivity.

Consider the enormous number of customers and agents that insurance companies have to deal with at any given time. Their information management systems are often inefficient. This lack of efficiency frequently stems from a reliance on manual data collection, use of disparate measuring systems and inconsistent data, which can lead to inaccurate insights. This inefficiency in turn can cause poor business outcomes and dissatisfied customers and agents alike. Handing over control of time-consuming and process-heavy functions means that management can focus its thoughts on moving the business forwards, and innovating.

Having said that, the right business process management partner could also contribute positively to the innovation process. Rather than just taking on the grunt work, it should get under the skin of your business to look at every nuance of your processes in order to add genuine strategic value. Online travel agency Travelocity enlisted external counsel in response to a dip in worldwide airline traffic and hotel revenues, deciding on our advice to add an offline channel to its online business. The result was a 50% increase in overall offline revenue.

By concentrating on delivering standardisation and efficiency gains across the business with a shared services model (and a combination of technology and analytics) business process management partners can deliver many benefits. These include: reduced operating costs, enhanced efficiency, improved management decisions, improved customer satisfaction and, ultimately, revenue growth.

It’s the combination of these three unique factors —Efficiency, Innovation, Partnerships —which will help Western businesses strengthen their offerings while keeping costs down so they can secure sustainable profitable business growth. Merely streamlining processes may achieve initial time and financial savings while innovation introduces new revenue streams. But, crucially, it’s the involvement of expert partners which sustains the all-important longevity that shareholders and the Board desire and will help the West compete on an even playing field with rivals in the East.

 

Keshav R. Murugesh is Group CEO of business process management company WNS Global Services and Chairman of the NASSCOM BPM Council in India

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Keshav R. Murugesh

Keshav R. Murugesh is Group CEO of business process management company WNS Global Services and Chairman of the NASSCOM BPM Council in India See More

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