Six Focus Areas For Business Success
In recent years, the modern business world has undergone through a complete transformation. The global economy is in flux; the old institutions have crumbled; the formerly ‘emerging’ markets of the East, Latin America or Africa are now where new opportunities (or threats) can be found.
All of the above, point towards one thing, that the competition is increasingly fragmenting, which makes it ever harder for corporations to differentiate themselves, and define their rules for success. With the government giving importance to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the level of competition has increased for the SMEs. In order to survive the competition in the market, the SMEs are required to adopt new processes and technologies. As a result of this many are viewing adaptation as an opportunity to transform business operations and radically rethink go-to-market strategies.
Therefore, a crucial part of this transformation is to rethink fundamentally, how technology is used to deliver business success. Business infrastructure is being realigned against operational goals – agility, speed of service, and the ultimate goal lies in the ability to deliver an outstanding end-user experience. Most of all, organizations are looking to use technology to innovate: to automate and realign operations to ensure they can deliver what their customers want, when they want it, faster, and more efficiently than ever before.
What is interesting is that whatever the industry, wherever the location, these goals are the same. The same rules apply for India as well. India has transformed its image from a slow moving bureaucratic economy to a land of innovation. Technology has helped Indian companies in creating value added jobs by letting the machines do basic work, which was previously done manually. For instance, technology has played a big role in further developing a self-sufficient agricultural industry in India. Right from increasing irrigation efficiency to soil testing, technology is helping produce better crop yields.
The truth is that the majority of business leaders believe that focusing on these six common factors will deliver their future business success.
1. Agility, productivity and performance
For many organizations, global expansion leaves a legacy of disparate systems and applications that are both expensive to run and out of touch with the existing business model. When time-to-market is business-critical, no company can let its dated technology hamper performance.
Many organizations now view Software-Defined Networking (SDN) as the key to effective network transformation. This enables organizations to intelligently organize their networks to allow applications to access resources in an on-demand, elastic, pay-as-you-go fashion – and in doing so, to increase operational efficiencies and speed-up deployment of services and applications.
In an SDN environment, the intelligence behind how to treat data is separated from the actual physical transit of the data. That allows many of the network appliances that currently exist as dedicated physical devices to be virtualized, creating a more sophisticated, yet centralized and controllable network. Simply put, SDN allows enterprises to keep up with the changing nature of their businesses, enabling them to be more responsive to users, customers and market opportunities.
But transformation is also about how the client/service provider relationship works. Organizations are also looking for sourcing and service models that can bend as the business strategy evolves, with transparent pricing and simple delivery structures. What businesses really expect is the lead time reduction of critical processes. It doesn’t matter who does what— the focus is on removing barriers that hinders an organization’s ability to respond to change and to drive innovation.
The end result is an agile IT environment, with networks built to support customer service and closely aligned with business needs, that helps the organization deliver on its goals. For instance the online cab aggregator companies such as Ola and Uber are now reaping the benefits of analytics and automation to respond to the customer queries and feedback .
2. Security and compliance
Next on the list are security and compliance. In today’s world, companies are creating, accessing, sharing and storing ever larger volumes of ‘Big Data’ which they hope have the potential to transform business opportunities and operations. The issue is that with Big Data comes Big Risk. That data includes customer information, pricing, product strategies, business plans, etc. Hence protecting this IP is an imperative. Not doing so risks not just monetary loss, but reputational damage that can have a far longer lasting impact.
Security is therefore an essential part for every business. Investment in security analytics and cyber intelligence will not only help mitigate against the outsider (or increasingly, insider!) threat, but also, by doing the basics well.
Knowing common attack patterns, and building up basic defenses against them; knowing where data is (and making sure it is encrypted), and monitoring to identify unusual behavior. Don’t forget your people - with the ongoing rise in phishing attacks, well-trained staff are a first line of defense.
Compliance is also required for a reason. Most standards are designed to lessen risk, so organizations that do not meet the latest compliance requirements are in fact actively opening themselves up to risk. It’s no surprise that attacks on companies – of all sizes - have been on the rise ever since the inception of the digital era.
Due to this, it is worth remembering that incoming data protection legislation is no longer about compliance being considered only as a best practice, but rather compliance being a law that needs to be followed. The expertise to achieve this will be at a premium as the skills gap continues to grow.
3. Firm but flexible governance
With this secure, flexible IT infrastructure in place, governance is next on the list. Here, it’s a question of putting in place strong processes and tools, in a simple and streamlined structure, which will ensure that technology is used to its maximum potential. This is where technology can really be used to manage itself – monitoring for unexpected events, flagging areas of concern, and triggering common sense fixes as part of ongoing process management that will keep the business moving in the right direction. But the human angle is just as important, so the team that will deliver this governance needs to be efficient enough. One that understands the links between technology and the business, and continually works to strengthen these.
What’s most important for businesses is that process does not overwhelm the vision. At the end of the day, the business is what counts and processes must not multiply to the point where they become the focus of activity. Ongoing evaluation of performance has a key role to play here – the elimination of unnecessary processes is just as important as the introduction of new ones, if it contributes the business forwards.
4. Technology as an enabler for business growth
Leveraging technology to help your people work as effectively as possible can be a real competitive differentiator. This means adopting technology that enables employees to access information in multiple formats, on multiple devices, from any location, on demand.
Mobile device management and content delivery systems are critical. Applications are delivered seamlessly and securely beyond the desktop to smarter, ever more portable devices, stored and delivered from the cloud, to enable agility, improve productivity, and transform business opportunity. Also, the office intranet is being transformed into trusted social workspaces to enable collaboration and innovation.
But of course, most importantly, it’s about building a corporate experience that has a consumer feel. The end user doesn’t care how it happens, but rather what the technology does for them, so it’s the cumulative effect of technology that matters most, not the individual steps in the technology chain. IT teams that really understand how the business works will be best placed to make this happen.
5. Knowledge is power
How a company manages its customer interactions has a direct impact on brand, reputation, and the bottom line.
Technology is already integral here – centralized call centers, remote PC agents and online ordering are now part of everyday life. So customers are used to being ‘remembered’, but they also want to be recognized – an important differentiator.
‘Knowing’ the customer is the answer – using data mining to try to replicate an old-fashioned knowledge base; social media for customer dialogue; and location-based technology to help customers find what they want, when they want it, all helps business harness the power of the crowd, without alienating it. Involving the customer with the brand can help in creating a ‘real’ relationship – even in a virtual world – where true value is perceived and realized on both sides. Large companies as well as SMEs actively interact with their customers in the hope of making them feel engaged. Providing the right services at the right time is critical to creating brand trust and loyalty among them
The final piece of the puzzle is innovation. This is about harnessing the knowledge already available within an organization, and actively encouraged. Far too few organizations make the most of the intellectual property they have at their disposal.
There is a need to create a culture where employees feel as though their ideas are valued, their opinions are being recognized, and that they have a part to play in creating their business’ success. The most significant element here is to drive a top-down business culture – and again, technology can be a key enabler in this process. India has witnessed huge amount of innovation in recent years with the establishments of a number of startups. According to the “Indian Startup Ecosystem Maturing - 2016″ report by Nasscom-ZINNOV, the number of tech startups in India is expected to grow by 10-12%. It’s no surprise that startups foster a culture of creativity and innovation which in turn makes employees feel valued.
Social collaboration tools, unified communications and collaboration, information sharing all have a role to play in enabling effective dialogue. And from dialogue comes ideas, from ideas come solutions, and with solutions come new business opportunities.
How IT spend is determined is actually the final consideration –and there is a distinct shift in how forward-thinking organizations are looking at this. Historically, spend would have been determined by corporate seniority (that is, the boss), weight of people (=big departments) or to who shouts loudest (=annoyances). Today, increasingly, spend is being determined by how important the user function, data or application is to the business, with this importance prioritized by the business itself. Given that not all things are equal in IT, the reality is that it is more important to keep payroll and the supply chain in motion than human resources and marketing, and how businesses classify these constituent parts is increasingly defining how much focus the IT department will give them.
Most importantly, there’s no doubt that technology has a crucial role to play in delivering business success today and tomorrow, and those organizations that are best able to meet the challenges of digital transformation will come out on top. These six factors aren’t a bad place to start.
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