Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Companies must use customers knowledge

says CIPD speaker Dr CK Prahalad

23-25 October 2002, Harrogate International Centre

Companies have to reinvent themselves to take advantage of the new power, knowledge and participation of consumers, says one of the business worldís most influential professors.

Dr CK Prahalad ñ the Michigan-based academic named as one of the top ten management thinkers in the world by the Financial Times ñ will delivere this central message in his Competitive Strategy masterclass to the national conference of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Harrogate.

Dr Prahalad describes change brought about by deregulation, globalisation and the convergence of technologies and industries as ìa silent revolutionî that will bring about a new era of competition. ìArmed with access to more information and choices, consumers are moving from a passive to an activist role,î he says.

Customers no longer wait passively for what a manufacturer (or provider of any other service) delivers. Better informed and more sophisticated than they were, they also demand to be involved, whether the service is treatment for an acute medical condition or new software.

Companies should make use of customersí competence, says Dr Prahalad ñ but the human resources challenge is then to engage employees so that they can make proper use of customersí experience and views. This applies across all sectors, whether the people meeting customers are call centre operators or service mechanics.

Dr Prahalad, professor of Business Administration at the Michigan Graduate School of Business Administration, puts his academic theory into practice through a successful company, Praja, which specialises in software for business activity monitoring. He and his co-founder invested millions of dollars of their own money into the business, based on the principles he has been teaching others.

In his seminar he will discuss the combination of leadership and teamwork that pervade successful organisations, and how the HR function can contribute to gaining a competitive edge through people.