Oliver Marks on McKinsey’s ‘Business and Web 2.0′ Report and the new Consulting Landscape

Found at http://blogs.zdnet.com/collaboration/?p=870

McKinsey, the venerable management consulting company, has produced their second piece of ‘Web 2.0 in business‘ research this year. This is arguably a sign of the rapid maturation of the 2.0 technology and associated (and I’d argue more important) change management sector: the pricey consulting company presumably smells money given their focus for their prospects and customers with this free (with login) information.

It’s a solid and useful report, albeit a little definitively written given that it is essentially the results of an online survey they ran in June of this year which sixteen hundred and ninety five people responded to – not really a big effort given McKinsey’s ubiquity worldwide…

More on the report in a moment, but first my thoughts on the ‘Business and Web 2.0′ consulting landscape. In the last couple of weeks two of the smartest Forrester analysts (Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang) left that company to join former Forrester analyst Charlene Li at the Altimeter Group, and the still-in-stealth-mode Dachis Group purchased UK and Australia based Headshift.

McKinsey have a long history in the management consulting world (’the industry and practice of helping organizations improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing business problems and development of plans for improvement‘ - wikipedia). Most of Enron’s top management were McKinsey alumni and some blame the industry for aspects of the current economic crisis. This is one of the challenges of being a major player – you leave a trail through history.

Given the heft of large players like McKinsey, and to be fair also their historical global competitors, it is relatively easy for them to consume the innovation in the Enterprise 2.0/’Web 2.0 in Business’ space and roll it up into their offerings.

There’s a sea change in the way capitalism is emerging from the financial conflagration which is asking serious questions about the way things we got into the mess in the first place.

A new generation of informed and agile consulting is coalescing around the new technologies; these new companies aspire to break the old order and lead the way on how to extract value from rapid cultural and technological change for their clients.

Like Microsoft Sharepoint (’the Chrysler Sebring of software’ as someone tweeted today), there’s nothing disastrously (usually) wrong with the old order: plenty of people will pay handsomely for guidance from trusted software vendors and consultants going forward.

The bigger question – and the challenge for the new generation consultant community of which I am a part – is differentiating from these more conservative players to demonstrate greater business value. The DNA of older firms like McKinsey have ‘old school’ written large throughout, but the new game of identifying and delivering business value in specific ‘Web 2.0 in business’ context is rapidly changing what businesses seeking competitive advantage are looking for.

Having said this, the McKinsey ‘Web 2.0 in business’ report, which to be fair is their third yearly offering (In 2008, the survey received 1,988 responses; in 2007 it received 2,847 responses) is a solid, middle of the road effort, not unlike the Chrysler Sebring. In employee appraisal terms it ‘meets expectations’…

Hitting the McKinsey report highlights, their findings

…demonstrate that success follows a “power curve distribution”—in other words, a small group of users accounts for the largest portion of the gains. According to our research, the 20 percent of users reporting the greatest satisfaction received 80 percent of the benefits. Drilling a bit deeper, we found that this 20 percent included 68 percent of the companies reporting the highest adoption rates for a range of Web 2.0 tools, 58 percent of the companies where use by employees was most widespread, and 82 percent of the respondents who claimed the highest levels of satisfaction from Web 2.0 use at their companies.

…While the evidence suggests that focused management improves Web 2.0 performance, there’s still a way to go before users become as satisfied with these technologies as they are with others. The top 20 percent of companies reached a performance score of only 35 percent (the score increased to 44 percent in the 2009 survey). When the same score methodology is applied to technologies that corporations had previously adopted, Web 2.0’s score is below the 57 percent for traditional corporate IT services, such as e-mail, and the 80 percent for mobile-communications services.

‘Increasing speed of access to knowledge’ for internal purposes, and also when working with external partners/suppliers tops the ‘measurable gains’ charts, while for customer related purposes (the social CRM space) increasing effectiveness of marketing leads in the third category.

Video sharing, then blogs lead the measurable benefit from using a given web 2.0 technology in the same categories. Rather than regurgitate the report in this truncated format I suggest digesting the six pages of tables and findings. They are broad but you may find them to be of value to your specific context in some cases…

Oliver MarksOliver Marks provides seasoned independent consulting guidance to companies on the effective planning of ‘Enterprise 2.0′ strategy, tactics, technology decisions and roll out. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Read more at http://blogs.zdnet.com/collaboration/?p=870

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A changing workforce: PEW reports on it!

The American work force is graying — and not just because the American population itself is graying. Older adults are staying in the labor force longer, and younger adults are staying out of it longer. Both trends took shape about two decades ago. Both have intensified during the current recession. And both are expected to continue after the economy recovers. According to one government estimate, 93% of the growth in the U.S. labor force from 2006 to 2016 will be among workers ages 55 and older.

Demographic and economic factors explain some — but not all — of these changes. Attitudes about work also play an important role — in particular, the growing desire of an aging but healthy population to stay active well into the later years of life.

A new nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center‘s Social & Demographic Trends project finds that a majority (54%) of workers ages 65 and older say the main reason they work is that they want to. Just 17% say the main reason is that they need the paycheck. An additional 27% say they’re motivated by a mix of desire and need.

When asked to identify specific reasons for working, older workers emphasize psychological and social factors: “to feel useful”; “to give myself something to do”; “to be with other people.” Younger and middle-aged workers are much more inclined to cite classic pocketbook considerations: “to support myself and my family”; “to live independently”; “to qualify for retirement benefits”; “to receive health care benefits.”

To be sure, the current state of the economy has influenced nearly everyone’s calculations about work to some extent. But the recession appears to be having a very different impact, depending on age — keeping older adults in the labor force and younger ones out of it.

According to the Pew Research survey, nearly four-in-ten adults who are working past the median retirement age of 62 say they have delayed their retirement because of the recession. Among workers ages 50 to 61, fully 63% say they might have to push back their expected retirement date because of current economic conditions.

All of these survey findings are consistent with a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data that show that the labor force participation rate1 of older adults, which declined from 1950 until the middle of the 1980s, has been rising ever since. This trend has accelerated during this decade, especially in the current recession.

At the other end of the age spectrum, census data show that in the current decade, a rising share of Americans ages 16 to 24 are in school and a declining share are in the labor force — 57% today versus 66% in 2000.

The Pew Research survey identifies two factors that help explain these changing patterns among the young. First, a growing share of the public says that a person needs a college education to get ahead in life; about three-quarters (73%) of the public feels this way now, up from about half (49%) in 1978. Second, younger adults (like all adults) are being hit hard by the recession, and some may have become discouraged and dropped out of the labor market.

Overall, more than four-in-ten nonworking people ages 16 to 24 say they’ve looked for work but can’t find anything.

Gender Shifts

Age is not the only demographic characteristic of the work force that’s changing. There are also new developments on the gender front — but here, the most compelling story of the decade is not the presence of change but the absence of change.

After marching steadily upward for five decades, the labor force participation rate of women has essentially flattened out. It now stands at 59%, slightly below the 60% peak it reached in 2000 at the end of a period of robust economic growth, and about 13 percentage points below the current rate for men.

Even in an era of growing gender parity in the workplace, the work/family trade-off continues to be much more complicated for women than for men. The Pew Research survey dramatizes these disparities; it finds that nonworking women are nine times as likely as nonworking men to cite the tug of family responsibility as a key reason for not having a job. The survey also finds that only a small share of the public — 12% — thinks the ideal situation for a mother of young children is to work full time outside the home.

As for men, their labor force participation rate has declined in this decade — just as it has every decade since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping such records in 1948. As of June 2009, it stood at 72%, the lowest level in modern history. The current economic downturn has hit men harder than women, with men suffering about two-thirds of all recession-related job losses. As often happens in a recession, a portion of these newly unemployed workers have become discouraged about finding jobs and have dropped out of the labor force altogether.

Other Findings

This report is based on a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term trends in survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as on Pew Research’s own survey of a representative national sample of 1,815 people ages 16 and older conducted from July 20 to Aug. 2, 2009. Among its other key findings:

  • Security trumps salary. By a ratio of nearly two-to-one, survey respondents say they would prefer a job that offers better security (59%) over one that offers higher pay (33%) but less stability. It’s not the recession that drives this preference. A similar question asked by the General Social Survey in 1989 (when the economy was in the midst of an expansion) produced a similar result.
  • Despite tough times, job satisfaction remains high. Even in the face of widespread layoffs, pay freezes and involuntary furloughs, nine-in-ten employed adults say they are either completely (30%) or mostly (60%) satisfied with their job. In recent decades, levels of job satisfaction have tended to remain stable through good times and bad.
  • Older workers are the happiest workers. Some 54% of workers ages 65 and older say they are “completely satisfied” with their job, compared with just 29% of workers ages 16 to 64. The explanation lies in figures cited above — a high percentage of these workers are working because they want to, not because they need to.
  • Retirement is not always voluntary. Only about half (51%) of all current retirees say they retired because they wanted to. About a third (32%) say they had to retire for health or other reasons, and about one-in-ten (9%) say their employer forced them to retire.
  • Even so, retirement gets high marks. More than half of all retirees (57%) say their retirement has turned out to be very satisfying; an additional 23% say it has been fairly satisfying. Only about one-in-six describe retirement as not too (10%) or not at all (6%) satisfying.
  • The public is skeptical about full-time working moms. Just 14% of men and 10% of women say that a full-time job is the “ideal” situation for a woman who has a young child. A plurality of the public (44%) say a part-time job is ideal for such a mother, while a sizable minority (38%) say the ideal situation is for her not to work outside the home at all.
  • Most working moms would rather have a part-time job. Among mothers of young children who have a full-time job outside the home, six-in-ten (61%) say they would prefer to work part time. By contrast, just 19% of fathers who have a full-time job and a young child say they would prefer to work part time.

About this Report

The remainder of this report is in two sections. The first looks at demographic trends related to work; it is based on Pew Research Center tabulations of survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. The section was written by senior researcher Rakesh Kochhar; the research and analysis was conducted by Kochhar and Jennifer Medina, an intern; and charts were prepared by research assistant Daniel Dockterman. The second section looks at attitudes toward work and is based on a Pew Research survey. It was written by senior editor Richard Morin, and research and analysis for this section was conducted by Morin and research associate Wendy Wang. Paul Taylor, director of Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project, edited both sections and wrote the overview. Senior demographer Jeffrey Passel provided programming support. Dockterman and Medina did the number checking, and Marcia Kramer copy-edited the report.
Read more at http://pewsocialtrends.org/pubs/742/americas-changing-work-force

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IndustryWeek : Better Decisions, Better Results Recession finds executives rethinking their decision-making strategies.

Found at http://www.industryweek.com/articles/better_decisions_better_results_19900.aspx

Compiled By Jill Jusko
Sept. 2, 2009

Click here to find out more!
One would hope that a desire to continuously improve would be motivation enough to improve decision-making skills. For companies that need external motivation to improve in this area, however, the recession has provided it. According to a new study from the Economist Intelligence Unit, many executives are changing their decision-making processes in light of the current economic realities. For instance, many are seeking a greater diversity in their sources of information, according to survey results summarized in the study “Management magnified: Getting ahead in a recession by making better decisions.” According to the study, “The more diverse the inputs, the more nuanced the decisions.” The survey of 229 executives worldwide was conducted in May. The survey results show 46% of respondents are seeking greater insights from middle managers, 57% cited the importance of customers and 33% mentioned capital providers. Other key results show:
  • Two-thirds of those surveyed said the most important source for good decision-making came from the financial and operational information held by the finance function and interpreted by the CFO. Why? The report states, “This is not just because finance tracks and aggregates the company’s financial and operational information. It also reflects a particular way of seeing things: CFOs tend to have a conservative and skeptical attitude that is essential for companies struggling to survive as well as for those considering new initiatives.”
  • Decisions at the worst-hit companies focused on short-term, tactical moves rather than on long-term strategy. That said, “Executing a long-term strategy is not a luxury reserved for times of economic growth. Companies cannot make tactical decisions without a vision of where they want to be in the long term,” the report authors note.
  • The recession has led 53% of respondents to focus more closely on key customers.
  • 45% of survey respondents report that decision-making in their companies has become more centralized during the recession.

Having the right information at the right time is key to better decision-making, the report notes. Among its concluding recommendations, the study notes that organizations should develop a means to classify, analyze and distribute information. Indeed, “Successful companies are those that have perfected an ongoing process of gathering information, analyzing it and making it available to any decision-makers in the organization, at whatever level, so that they can draw on it instantly when they need to.”

Read more at http://www.industryweek.com/articles/better_decisions_better_results_19900.aspx

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