Sunday, September 24, 2017

Three Aspects IT Can Build Business Competitive Advantage

IT needs to shift from the “surviving mode” to “thriving mode,” to focus on information management, innovation management, and make continuous improvement.

IT organization is at the crossroad, either take a proactive approach to become a strategic business partner or just react to the business request as a commodity service provider and gradually become irrelevant. History reveals that IT needs to be understood and harnessed by all stakeholders to fulfill its potential and gain the strategic importance as a differentiator of companies. Thus, IT leaders should continue to ask themselves: Does IT have the vision necessary for the business to succeed and continuously grow? Is IT system just a commodity with a standardized usage of technologies, or is IT system the core and key differentiator of your business? Here are three aspects IT can help to build a business competitive advantage.


Information Management: Information Management means that the business now has an abundance of information as an invaluable business asset, that information has the right quality, information is used effectively with proper risk management, to ensure the right people can get the right information at the right time to make right decisions. IT does not add value by simply storing, maintaining, and securing information. That is necessary and a given. The tricky bit with information is that, depending on the level of granularity and aggregation, you can use it for multiple purposes. The approach depends on the company's business and the role that IT plays in defining its positioning in the market. When IT helps the organization harness and understand the information to capture the real-time business insight, provide ways to better recognize and act on that information for gaining competitive advantage, it will achieve high business value and build a competitive business advantage. From the digital business ecosystem perspective, Information Management has the expansive impact on the economy, politics, culture, and human behavior. Besides people, information is the most invaluable asset in businesses today. Digital IT needs to provide an integrated information lifecycle management solution to conquer information management challenges, such as information accessibility, availability, transparency, visibility, enable trust and reliability.


The culture of Innovation: Information abundance can bring new ideas; ideas have always driven business success. The transcendence from information management to innovation management enables IT to help the business build competitive advantage. The lightweight digital technologies and hyperconnected enterprise social platforms are the catalysts to develop the culture of innovation which is a strategic organizational asset as well. Because innovation culture and innovation management underpin an organization’s innovation capability which enables the business to manage innovation in a systematic way and improve the success rate of innovation. The three managerial tools for creating a culture of innovation are policies, programs, and structures. IT is the linchpin to integrate them seamlessly and leverage a systematic approach for managing a balanced innovation portfolio, with a good mix of incremental innovation, evolutionary innovation, and breakthrough innovation. And the logical scenario to drive innovation within an organization is to commit it, develop the differentiated business capability to innovation, from discovery to development and deployment. Running IT as an innovation hub is about setting a cultural adjustment and understanding within the organization that innovation is embraced and expected, including the acceptance of failure along the path to innovation and ensuring the culture supports innovative efforts, recognize and encourage innovators to think different and take bold actions. That means you should rather reward taking risks, fail fast & forward, and learn from failures to innovate effectively.


Customer Experience Management: IT is the business, and digital IT is outward and customer-centric. This should be the focus of forward-thinking CIOs. Running a customer-centric IT would follow the principle to gain customer empathy and build a competitive business advantage. Building customer-facing applications are strategic to delight customers with new solutions. Customer-facing applications are critical as at the end of the day they generate revenue for the business. Customer Experience is also the differentiator of brands. IT takes charge of information, and information can be captured into customer insight. When you really understand or attempt to capture the insight about what the customer actually want, that is when you can really develop an experience that fits them and their needs or desires. When customers are "highly satisfied," they have more opportunities to be loyal. There are so many things that contribute to being "in the age of the customer, " customers have multiple shopping channels, and now all types of experiences are shared in their internet community, social media, online reviews. What the customers and clients generally want is a no-nonsense, fit-for-purpose, and hassle-free solution to their needs, combined with as little interaction with the seller as possible. IT plays a crucial role in digitizing every touch point of customer experience to engage internal customers and delight end customers. Improvement and achieving the right balance in any truly customer-centric organization requires all team members to believe that things can be improved.


IT needs to shift from the “surviving mode” to “thriving mode,” to focus on information management, innovation management, and make continuous improvement. IT maturity is not based on how many years IT organizations have been around and keep running to support the business; but about how well IT can provide innovative solutions to meet business needs and delight customers, and help the business build competitive advantage.

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