Management Reporting Layers
Progressive companies will have fewer reporting layers between business units, divisions, and executive management. Business units will increasingly operate autonomously and be measured by specific performance metrics (e.g., a balanced scorecard).
Customer Sophistication and Demand
In the new millennium, customers will be better informed, more sophisticated, and increasingly demanding. They will use the Internet to access information, demand product customization, require price transparency, and conduct comparison shopping. Customer satisfaction will hinge on product/service features and quality, and after-sales support and services. More data on customer satisfaction will be published on the web, exposing the market leaders and followers in every industry. Progressive companies focus on serving their customers well.
Because a good public image is regarded as a competitive advantage, progressive companies nurture a positive reputation of being reliable and ethical. Brand image is expected to become increasingly important to the stakeholders of all companies.
Progressive companies strive to protect public interests from ill-conceived mergers and acquisitions, dangerous operating practices, antisocial business decisions, and oligopolistic behaviors. Governments are known to have taken decisive actions against some violators in the past, for example: (1) Alaska opposed BP Amoco's acquisition of ARCO to take a 70% share of Alaska's oil and gas reserves; (2) Italy accused Coke of distorting competition rules; (3) the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) raised issues with Microsoft's monopoly of the Windows operating system market; and (4) the U.S. DOJ approved the merger of AOL and Time Warner only after having studied it for more than one year.
Stock Market Valuation
The stock valuation of progressive companies will be based on returns on their intangible assets instead of their tangible ones. The intangible assets of a company include (a) brand capital (customers and the community) and (b) knowledge capital (strategic suppliers and employees). Progressive companies are capable of optimizing the return on these intangible assets that form the primary basis for the companies' competitiveness in the marketplace.