Today's business world is more complex and fast-changing than ever before. Information has become the universal medium through which marketplace change is understood and business transformation is mastered. Yet, converting vast streams of information into decisions that have true strategic and competitive impact is perhaps the greatest business challenge of our times.
This challenge is frequently not met because of the disjointed and dis-integrated way in which businesses apply information to decision-making. Highly competent specialists in data creation and management use powerful computer systems to move a bewildering array of information to business users. Yet, these information specialists are usually separated operationally from the major marketplace issues that drive strategy. Likewise, those responsible for interpreting key streams of information and setting business strategy only remotely understand the technical qualities and performance potential of the information they use. To further compound the problem, neither information technologists nor strategy-setters are well-connected to those who must implement strategic decisions within the organization and across the marketplace.
Covering The Business Knowledge Cycle
There are three critical phases to the process of managing strategic change, at any level, in an organization:
Enterprise Strategy Consultants believe that organizational innovation and change strategies often fail because too little attention is paid to the Learning and Implementation phase of strategic change-making. The strongest and most enduring business decisions are made by teams that are involved actively in each of these critical phases.
Consulting Services For The Enterprise-Wide Knowledge Cycle
In the modern business environment, there is no shortage of management consultants, large or small. Like other competent consultants MSA’s Enterprise Strategy Consulting offers objectivity, a broad-based business perspective, and disciplined thinking. However, unlike other consultants in the Information Management and Business Strategy fields, ESC possesses critical competencies in each of the three critical phases of the Organizational Learning (Knowledge-Building) process.
While most of the leading consultancies must secure information and analytical expertise from outside of their operations, ESC draws upon MSA’s permanent staffs of data management specialists, analysts and model-builders. On any given client problem, there is constant interaction between the consulting team and these information experts.
To complete the cycle ESC focuses heavily on Implementation. While most top consultants are good at synthesizing learning and formulating strategic recommendations, they rarely offer the tools and talent to assist clients in implementing such recommendations in the "real world". Since we know that the "human disconnect" very often turns good strategic advice into ineffective action, we offer services that assure that implementation falls into line with intentions.
Building Blocks Of Enterprise Transformation
MSA’s Enterprise Strategy Consulting is organized across six distinct practice areas. While these practice areas exploit MSA’s broad array of information technologies, analytical methods, and Communications tools in a highly focused and customized way, they are by no means exclusive to each other.
These practice areas are the "building blocks" of a holistic process of strategy development that rests upon the principle that senior managers in functional areas, clearly needing tools adapted to their unique processes, also need access to a strategic perspective on the entire array of issues impacting business success.
Enterprise Strategy Consulting, while normally working within a single of these "building blocks", often does bridge them. For example, an assignment aimed at Building strong customer relationships can clearly require technology consulting in the area of knowledge management Systems customized to major customers.
Build And Maintain Customer Relationships: Tools We Can Apply
Optimize Return On The Marketing Investment: Tools We Can Apply
How We Work: "The Core" And "The Network"
MSA’s Enterprise Strategy Consulting practice rests upon an established foundation of technical and analytical talent but also has many of the response time and cost control advantages of a virtual organization.
ESC Teams are able to directly draw upon the resources represented by MSA’s permanent internal staff at its headquarters in Pittsburgh. Depending upon the nature of the assignment, a team might include talent from custom programming, systems design, web site design, market research, modeling, or forecasting disciplines.
Added to this internal resource, ESC consultants, faced with strategy development issues in almost any industry, can tap into a network literally global in scope, of on-call expertise ranging, for example, from agricultural economists to cable TV engineers...from metallurgists to biotechnology researchers.
As required by a client assignment, an ESC team is pulled together, usually including both Internal and External experts who make their individual contribution via a dedicated MSA Intranet site.
A More "Democratic" Perspective On Strategy Development
"Strategy" (derived from the Greek word describing a war leader’s deployment of his troops) used to be the almost exclusive domain of political leaders, generals, and company presidents. In the case of CEO’s, these leaders were often assisted in developing strategy by Management Consultants…deeply experienced, well-trained, and well-compensated people who, more often than not, came to the work with a perspective that was limited to what could be seen from the executive suite.
Not any more. Today, managers up and down the business hierarchy are, rightly, encouraged to think strategically, exhorted not to take decisions in their functional areas without considering the potential implications for the entire enterprise. Increasingly, managers are starting to see their specializations as being influenced by and, in turn, influencing other key business processes.
Marketing people know that, to succeed, they need to be knowledgeable about customer and supply chain issues. Sales leaders understand that a consumer knowledge and supply chain insight are critical to their relationship with customers.
What Is Past is…Probably Not…Prologue
One of MSA’s most strongly held beliefs is that Clients should not depend too much on market-place precedent when building business strategy. Conventional business consultancies are famous for their case histories and "best practice" documentation. They strongly stress cross-industry experience and often base solutions they offer up on long-standing patterns they have identified in the marketplace.
Cross-industry and cross-technology experience are, of course, valuable if drawn upon to put today’s issues into realistic perspective. However, we live in a hyper-dynamic business environment in which decision makers are as likely to find themselves in the midst of major discontinuity as they are to be following an industry pattern. Besides, if business leaders are seeking to "get ahead of the curve" and create their own discontinuity in the marketplace, they have limited use for advice on precedents.
Marketers need to be wary of having their strategic issues arbitrarily put into pigeon holes with the historical challenges faced by other businesses…wary of applying old solutions to today’s problems. ESC believes that information should be tailored to the consulting issues at hand, rather than trying to fit the problem to the available information and experience base. Every assignment is treated as a unique problem-solving challenge.