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(originally published by Booz & Company)


The Best Ideas in Business — Revealed!

Voters also put their stamp of approval on an innovative approach to business transformation proven to boost customer satisfaction while cutting costs. Major change always requires trade-offs. In order to make the right choices, companies need to understand not only customer and process demands, but also organizational and IT requirements. “Service Ops Transformation: Raising Customer Satisfaction While Reducing Costs” brings these perspectives together, improving both planning and implementation of business transformations. A European benefits agency applied the approach and solved the apparently intractable problem of dramatically improving service performance in an environment of restructuring and consolidation.

Although judges and the public tended to broad agreement on the merits of Leading Innovations, some of the choices were controversial. The Controversy Award went to a submission entitled “Making Offshoring Happen: The Change Management Challenge.” This program for methodically analyzing, planning, and implementing a decision to take processes offshore offers undeniable economic benefits. A U.S. financial-services company used it successfully and saw internal skeptics turn into offshoring champions. Despite being what one voter called “a clear win for stockholders,” offshoring can be politically explosive. This same voter and many others expressed serious concerns about the social and ethical implications of sending jobs abroad. Even some voters from developing countries had reservations about a potential loss of quality, whereas other comments pointed out that today’s low-cost recipient of offshored jobs might be tomorrow’s loser, because the jobs gained may eventually migrate to even lower cost venues. No doubt these concerns are real and need to be addressed; but the ballots overwhelmingly indicate that in a globally competitive economy, few companies can prudently ignore a trend as powerful as offshoring.

It is difficult to imagine, this late in the history of the market economy, anything so utterly new that it has no relation to the past. Innovative, yet in some respects familiar, the Leading Innovations address the fundamental and enduring challenges of business, combining familiar themes in new ways — for new times.

To read the six winning entries as well as those of the other finalists, click here.


Gregory J. Millman ([email protected]) is a contributor to strategy+business and other business and financial magazines, and the author of four books, most recently The Day Traders: The Untold Story of the Extreme Investors and How They Changed Wall Street Forever (Crown Business, 1999).
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