Branding in Business to Business Environment

Whenever people talk about great brands they invariably talk about Coca Cola, Federal Express, Pepsi, Harley Davidson, Nokia, Apple, Starbucks etc. If we carefully go through this list we can safely establish that most of these brands are consumer brands or business to consumer (B2C) brands.

Almost every expert in the field believes that brands in the B2C environment are essential to leverage market opportunities and boost company’s bottom line. But in the business to business (B2B) environment the managements are of the view that branding is not significantly relevant. This view has emerged from the belief that in the competitive business to business environment people invariably know the best supplier of the product and one who produce the best quality. With this access of information people often take their decision based on numerous trade inquiries and negotiations rather than call of emotion as in the business to consumer market.

Mokushla Consulting Research over 40 B2B companies has revealed that branding is as essential in the business to business environment as it is in the business to consumer environment. It plays an important role in not only business leads but also in negotiation process. Better branding not only positions the company in greater light to its other commodity market competitors but it also enables it to charge that premium in relation to its competition.

Some of the B2B brands have positioned themselves as consumer brands even though they essentially operate in business to business environment. These brands are Intel, Microsoft, HP etc. According to HP senior executive branding helps the company in not only better visibility among potential business customers but also gives sales people more time to convince them and close the deals.

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Scanning Your External Business Environment

The 2010 IBM Chief Executive Officer Study is generating a lot of chatter in social media channels (hundreds of blog mentions). The comprehensive study covering 33 industries and 60 countries asked CEOs how they are capitalizing on complexity in a more uncertain business climate.

Setting strategic direction in a changing external business environment

The high interest in the study is evidence that leaders are looking harder for strategic solutions for managing in a more volatile business world. Business leaders are more concerned than ever about the external business environment, yet they feel less confident about how to navigate through it. Rigorous external business environment scanning is key to increased competence, and confidence, in finding robust strategic solutions. A typical PEST (political, economic, socio-cultural, technological) analysis, however, seems inadequate in increasingly volatile environments.

We used to scan our environment by asking questions based on informed shifts in market dynamics and changes in PEST factors. Today, we have to consider that the goal post may be moved to another field. Realistically, few CEOS are presuming to have as much understanding and control over the external environment as they had before the 2007 market downturn.

Bolder questions for a more complex external environment

The good news is that analytical tools are evolving to put leaders back in control of their strategic approach to the external business environment. Traditional approaches are likely to come up short. In light of the dramatic restructuring of industries and economies, new questions need to be asked when analyzing the external environment from a short- and longer-term horizon. In the former business climate, a firm’s core competence was expected to endure for a lifetime like a destiny assigned by the mythological Fate Lachesis. Today, the ‘what if’ scenarios must be bolder.
· Will my core competence be commoditized? How soon?
· What’s my next core competence?
· What regions will dominate in my core competence?
· What companies/regions will erode my competitive advantages?
· Will this become an outsourced industry? And by whom?
· What will be the most innovative product/company tomorrow?
· What technologies, not yet conceived of, will out innovate me?
· What is the worst-case scenario in terms of capital market receptivity to my industry? What will be my alternatives?

New business scanning models

In responding to the needs of leaders, it is important to distinguish whether their main concern is the ability to understand the rapidly changing business environment, or the capacity to undertake the appropriate actions to respond to it. Most leaders will argue the former. The evidence shows that leaders are confident that they have the skills and resources to respond to drastic change (this introduces another challenge: over-optimism – watch for an upcoming article on this) and what they really require is a more robustway of scanning their business environment, and keeping up with the changes.

The usefulness of external business environment scanning in strategic planning should not be discounted as outdated. It is likely only your model that is outdated. Studies continue to show that a good external business environment scan has significant positive effect on the strategic course of a firm, and ultimately performance; environment scanning models today must include plausible varying scenarios to be adequate for the current complexity.

For over twenty three years, Stephen has helped businesses, government agencies and non-profits organizations in Asia to learn and apply Strategic Management and Innovation to their organizations to sustain and improve long term performance. He has successfully led and facilitated numerous “live” strategic planning efforts and in-company senior management development programs, for a wide range of organizations including multi-national companies, small-medium enterprises and government agencies.

As an international consultant, Stephen has led public workshops/seminars on key strategic management topics such as strategic thinking and planning, change management, leadership and innovation, in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Dubai, China and the USA. He has trained hundreds of managers in workshops and seminars, with consistently excellent evaluations by the participants, who come from a wide range of industries in both the private and public sectors.

Reporting Software For Today’s Business Environment

One of the latest tools that has become available for today’s business managers is what is commonly referred to a reporting software. So, what exactly is reporting software and what does it do? Also, while it may be applicable to other businesses is it in fact applicable to yours?

Many Variations of Reporting Software

The fact, is that reporting software is available in several variations and is used for any of a number of purposes. In short, what it does is take raw data and convert it into an easy to comprehend format. At the same time it simplifies or refines this same data to make it far more easy to use.

Growth Brings Increased Potential for Losses

Unfortunately, as a business grows the financing of its operations can tend to spiderweb out in several directions. It’s just something that has become to be expected and accepted. Thus the margin for losses also tends to expand as well with growth.

Detecting Theft and Fraud

Reporting software allows a business to keep a tighter grip on their expenditures during these periods of growth, thus minimizing these expected losses. For instance, losses through theft or fraud can be far more easily and quickly detected with today’s modern reporting software.

Piles of Data Instantly Converted into Visual Format

One of the main reasons that reporting software makes managing a businesses expenses so much easier is that it instantly converts raw numbers and data into easy to understand charts and graphs. This is turn makes side by side comparisons a snap. Of course this in turn can make relevant correlations so much easier to see.

Quicker and Easier Information Management

No need for an accountant to crunch numbers and explain irregularities when they can be plainly seen on a simple bar chart. Also, subtle trends become not so subtle when they are laid out in plain sight on a line graph. In today’s business environment information is power and reporting software makes processing and managing information much quicker and easier.