Business Issue

Clients for Life: How to Sustain Marketability & Employability


No market = no clients = no investments = no projects = no employment. This simple equation leads to the rationale and logical deduction that projects are investments and to stay employable it is vital to sustain the marketability of products and services. However, in the digital economy the marketability of products and services are very different from the old economy. Client is in direct contact with the manufacturer and service provider. In essence, the middle/ retail person does not add business value and is replaced by smart technology or artificial intelligent robot – outcome from fusion of Industry 4.0 and Technology 3.0 era. Up to 40% of all mundane/routine work will be succeed by automation and agile technology invasion. The balanced 60% of high business value adding work will requires multitasking skills of human capital who have the competence to sustain marketability and employability by retaining clients for life.

Being a Great Professional

Many stakeholders misconstrue the authentic meaning of being a professional as someone who is highly qualified or educated. Therefore, the qualm over whether a degree is a must to be successful in one’s career till today is still being debated. Indeed, the primary purpose of tertiary education is to teach us how to think better so that we can contribute more to society in the wake of those who are less fortunate, who cannot afford, or who cannot meet the criteria to pursue a higher qualification. Professionals like doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. are recognised for their professionalism because of their code of conduct and practice. Thus, to-date managers, entrepreneurs, are still not yet recognised as professionals. But, this does not prevent them from performing professional work. Let us ponder on the future of work arising from Industry 4.0 and Technology 3.0 which demands great professional.

Figure 1. What is a Great Professional

A great professional is an educator who unselfishly shares his wisdom resulting from mass production of human capital through a multiplying effect. Further, an educator is one who enthusiastically imparts expertise into learning by transforming creativity (ideas) into innovation (solutions). Over time knowledge becomes expert power – the resultant wisdom is an accumulative tested knowledge gained from extensive practical experience to cope with changes in a dynamic business ecosystem. See Figure 1.

Figure 2. The Attributes of a Great Professional

Figure 2 reveals the attributes of a great professional to win the heart share and mind share of their clients for life. The heart share of a great professional is observed from his passion and perseverance in the quest of providing best business value adding product and service to their clients – sustainable power for being resilient and stamina for maintaining enthusiasm. The mind share of a great professional is revealed from his logic, synergy, virtue and values – soul and spirit in the pursuit of excellence through communications and adaptive power to connect with the clients for life. Action speaks louder than words. Clients will appreciate those who are connected to their heart beat and sensitive to their expectations to meet their experience. The concept of the 4Ps, 4Cs, 4As are passé. In the era of Industry 4.0 and Technology 3.0, it has migrated to the 4Es – expectation, experience, enthusiasm, education. Some pundits called this sensory marketing. Anything less you are at your peril of extinction.

The DNA of a Great Profession

Figure 3 captures the DNA of a great profession and Figure 4 its business value adds. The eight elements viz.
• Selfless independence – share your knowledge and groom our clients to succeed
• Hidden clues – honesty is still the best policy; whenever in doubt, ask
• Deep generalists – left brain for analysis and right brain for synthesis; whole brain for effective decision-making
• The big picture – think and build long-term relationships to last
• Eye for winners – develop talent and nurture a pipeline of winners for clients
• Powers of connection – build stakeholder relationships management for rapport for longevity
• Trust through integrity – values drive behaviours, and consistency in our behaviours drive results; integrity is self, trust is from clients
• Ease with people – 90% of our role is to connect through effective communications by influencing people to get things done

Figure 3. The DNA of a Great Professional
Figure 4. The Business Value Add of a Great Professional

The 7 Cs of a Great Professional

Figure 5

To keep a client for life, it is imperative to understand the client expectations life cycle – see Figure 5. The iterative life cycle process begins with:
• Knowing the client – awar eness
• Clarify the needs – alignment
• Create value – action
• Change mindset – adoption
• Confirm solution – assurance
• Continue to implement – advantage
• Close the project after validation from the client – anticipation for the next project to begin again if client is delighted with the outcome of the previous project; document the lessons learnt because these are organisational assets

Figure 6

Conclusion with Foresight

Highly intelligent robot, smart factory, agile project management software can succeed those routine work that is more expensive than investing in technology managed by artificial intelligence. But, for non-routine work like turnkey project to-date no artificial intelligent robot can replace human capital for managing cultural diversity where flexibility and rapport build on trust and passion mature over time. Figure 6 depicts the transformation roadmap of value adding activities from being an expert for hire to a trusted great professional. Let technology be our slaves, and not we become slaves of technology! Its people who designs machines, not machines that design people!

To remain pertinent for marketability and employability there is a clarion call for paradigm shift – the way we think, work and live to sustain client for life. We need to transform intellectual capital to expert power, emotional capital to adaptive power, social capital to communications power, and adversity capital to sustainable power. As a great professional we need to develop our multi-tasking abilities or also known as T-Skills for the right competence to fit the industry segment that we are serving – an educator, a consultant, a trainer to beat the competition. Technology put every one on the same starting line for the competition. To ignore is breed complacency.


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Practice Professor KC Chan

Wholistic Chan is the President of TWAN Pte Ltd and an advisor to Pradita Institute of Science and Technology. He holds MSc (Industrial Engineering) and BSc (Production Management) degrees from the Cranfield University (England), an MBA (Strategic Management) and PhD (International Business) from the University of Strathclyde (Scotland). He also holds three doctorate degrees in project-based action learning. He is visiting professor to five leading universities in Asia. He has published 7 books, i.e. strategic project management, agile leadership, technopreneurship, design thinking in enterprise risk management, and disruptive thinking for Olympic innovation. He has also published over 100 articles in international journals and business magazines.

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