What Can You Expect From the Business Consulting Process?

Consulting firms are getting popular now. Top dollars are being paid to these firms to come up with business recommendations and suggestions to prop up and improve the business management styles and decision-making processes. The role of the business consulting firm varies depending on the real needs and requirements of the company. But there’s one link that connects all these services and this link is common to all providers of these services- all these providers will get to know and understand the business.Though there’s market for this kind of business and a number of businesses that tap the services of the professionals, still there are some people and businesses that don’t get the process and principle behind business consulting for best business practices. Getting confused with the services of a consulting firm is understandable but if you are in the business sector whether as a business owner or as a manager, it’s best to be aware of what business consulting is and the typical process that gets into the picture. The common understanding is that a consulting firm will take a look at the business and from there recommendations are forwarded. Though this is true, still it should be kept in mind that there are four more major steps that come in between these two. Here’s one look at consulting using a six-step process.Step one is learning about the business. This is a given and a must for consulting. The consultant should have a good understanding of the business, from its operations to needs before recommendations can be drafted. Different consulting firms will have different approaches in doing this step. One approach is to take survey the business and interview key people in the organization. A survey will involve a tour of the office or plant to learn about the business. Interviews will be given as well to understand the products or services and to learn about management styles and the decision-making process.Step two is to find the problems of the business. The problems that will be listed are not just the ones that are seen and observed by the business owners or employees rather the consultant will also find these problems from the consultant’s perspective.Step three is the identification of opportunities. The principle behind consulting is that for every identified problem, there’s an opportunity waiting to be tapped. These opportunities should be discovered not just by the consultant but by the business owner as well.Step four in business consulting is analysis. This step calls for the consulting company to analyze and study. This is the part where the problems and opportunities will be reviewed, and a listing will be made stating the problems and opportunities that will be prioritized. Future problems will be identified a well by the consultant. The analysis that can be provided by the consultant will also result to delivery of conclusions and these are all based on verifiable facts and figures.Step five is the provision of solutions based on the problems and the facts provided. A good business consultant should offer a game plan to the business owner or managers that they can follow. The recommendations that can be made by the consultant will definitely help the company change the business management direction or improve on it.Step six is the receipt of the feedback and adjusting the plan or strategies if necessary. Right after the submission of recommendations and conclusions to the business, the next step considered by many consultants is to let the business grow and see from a distance while the company makes use of the designed plan. By observation, the consultant should note some changes or issues that may have crop up along the way. This is also the time when the business owner or manager will also offer some feed back about the plan. Based on the feedback provided, the business consultant can do the necessary adjustment to improve or change the game plan.Different consulting firms will have their own ways of undertaking the consulting business, but you can be sure that some of these steps will be reflected in their own approaches as well. At the end of the day, business consulting is about knowing the business and recommending solutions.Dany Cooper

Best Business Laptops For Your Business Needs

The ultimate business laptop is perfect to carry around and be unnoticed, can be used to compile quick business reports and spreadsheets, and pretty much anything that goes with a business meeting should be integrated into one of these computing machines.It goes without saying that a business laptop should be highly connectible so you never miss an important email or can attend a web conference without physically being there. It should also allow you to access certain features which keep your business up and running, so if your business is an online business, then you will probably be accessing the social media places such as Twitter, Facebook (if you have that kind of page for your business) and many others. You will be communicating with your business partners, and since it’s better to actually see who you’re talking to, a nice built in webcam should do the trick just fine.It is important you know what makes a laptop good for business and what makes a laptop a standard consumer laptop used for everyday online activities.That being said, let’s go through some features a business laptop should have:Laptop size:The size of the laptop is pretty important. It goes without saying that a small laptop, a 10 inch mini computing machine probably won’t be capable of storing much, or actually making huge calculations some software demands. Or perform pretty well when it comes to installed software. A decent size for your business laptop should be one that suits your business. If there’s a lot of data to be carried around, a decent sized laptop would probably be used to create presentations and spreadsheets. These are two things that business laptops should be able to handle. A visual representation of data is always more handy than just numbers, so make sure your portable computer can handle such tasks.The standard size is the probably one you should go with. A 15.4 inch screen laptop is perfect if you don’t know yet what you will be using the laptop for. Also, go with a laptop configuration that is a bit above the average, to make sure it can handle itself with all the types of software it can encounter.Power – It always boils down to powerProcessing power I one important aspect of any laptop, not just business laptops. Some new models carry quite the powerhouse with them, having quad-cores and whatnot. These can get a bit expensive, but if it helps your business and increase overall productivity, then you should go for it. Just remember that a big processor on your laptop will mean a big power requirement. High end CPUs tend to empty a battery much quicker than regular ones. It’s the price you pay for high performance.Portability – The laptop goes where the business takes youA business laptop should be very portable so you can take it everywhere with you and don’t perceive it as a brick you have to carry around. If the business requires only a few simple computing tasks, then the best business laptops should be the ones that are small and still carry enough processing power to handle easy tasks. Think of small sized 10 inch screen diagonal laptops which you can fit into your briefcase along with other documents you might be carrying around with you. These are not powerhouses, but they simplify the whole way you do business and can store up on a lot of information.Connectivity – Business on the goYou want to make sure that your business laptop is highly connectible since you’ll be carrying it a lot with you and you need to stay in touch with business partners or possible clients. Make sure it comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, or search for the ones that can use the mobile phone networks to access the internet. At the office you can probably use the wired connection, or, if your office is equipped with a wireless router, you can still take the laptop with you around the office and keep connected.Laptop LooksGet a feel for the business laptop you will be using. If it’s a business laptop, then it should go nice with a suit. It should be a standard black model and should not carry any colorful distinctive marks to attract attention to it. The laptop you carry around represents the way you do business. If you would carry a pink laptop around with you, how would that impact your business credibility? This is more of an appearance feature rather than a performance one. Choose the laptop that goes with what you do, not a laptop that’s in total contrast with your business ethic.Laptop graphics capacityWhen choosing the laptop for your business, you won’t need to look at its graphics card. High-end graphics cards are great for gaming laptops, but if its business you are doing, it’s simply not a necessity since you won’t be fooling around playing games all day long.The best laptop for business will carry a built-in graphics card which will probably be using some of the available system RAM to run properly. Make sure your laptop is stocked up on RAM before making the choice.In conclusion, the very best business laptop is the highly portable one, which packs quite a bit of processing power and looks great when you take it with you on a business meeting. It should be easy to use and it should also improve the way you work and never act as an obstacle in the way you do business.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.

What is Technology?

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1

a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2

b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge

2

: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge

3

: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor

Wikipedia defines it as:

Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.

Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.

Technology is an enabler

Many people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.

Technology as a competitive advantage?

Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.

Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.

A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.

Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.

In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.

Technology’s Relevance

This article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.

The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.

The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.