Madison Avenue was once the final word on what was fashionable, dependable or simply the best. While advertising is thriving, however, the isolated consumer is gone, replaced by an informed network with unprecedented access to product, pricing and company information. Likewise, companies have never been more able to learn about, and reach, customers. This transparency brings a remarkable opportunity to involve customers more thoughtfully in creating the product and service experience — a perspective explored in this issue by Pat Conroy and Ajit Kambil.
After decades of investing in information technology, it would seem time for the business world to declare victory and revel in its reams of data. Yet a new survey suggests many executives struggle to get the information they need. Lee Dittmar and Jane Griffin discuss the findings and the path to improved information quality.
Governor Tom Ridge is well known as the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, but he had already made his name in a distinguished career as governor of Pennsylvania. Under his watch, the state went from a technology also-ran to a recognized leader in online government, and a bureaucracy was streamlined. Bill Eggers recently interviewed Ridge on this transformation — and his best subjects in school.
Not all is well in government, however. Spurred by demographic changes, crippling complexity and rates at or near their practical limits, tax reform in the United States seems all but inevitable, and its implications will affect businesses worldwide. Clint Stretch describes the likely scope of these changes and how executives can prepare to manage the risks involved. Risk comes in many flavors, of course. How a business approaches risk assessment can make a world of difference in its strategic planning and ability to navigate threats and opportunities — the topic of a feature by Steve Wagner and Maureen Errity.
Finally, Gregory Dickinson and Michael Puleo examine the misalignment of operational performance and business performance. How can a common language — one in which good metrics are combined with a common understanding of what activities affect them — help the bottom line? We revisit the value map tool, and find that the real value lies in the process.