Change Your Focus to Increase Your Company’s Competitive Advantage

In the last several years, there has been much talk about appropriately leveraging your technology to automate and optimize your organization. Any company with more than 15 years in business has experienced the changes in technology systems over the years, and can attest to the fact that newer technology means improved efficiencies.

In the last decade, the big push has been to take advantage of software applications that can be integrated with one another, thus connecting all of the different departments within your company. For example, instead of having separate front and back office systems – companies have had, for some time, the opportunity to implement systems which enable customer service, accounting, sales, warehouse management and other departments to be integrated into one streamlined system. The benefits of this kind of automation are numerous and include everything from improved data accuracy, better information sharing and lower operational costs; to real time data access, streamlined reporting and enhanced decision making – to name a few. However a recent study performed by Accenture, notes that companies that stop at optimization may be selling themselves short of their fullest potential.

While integration and automation are an extremely valuable first step to improved success, the benefits of technology don’t stop there. There is a widening gap between companies that are maintaining profits and those that are exceeding projections year over year. The clearest differentiator between the two is found in the combination of their main focus and their approach to technology. For the sake of this article we will name the two ‘company types’ Moderates, and Outperformers.

Moderate companies are getting by. They aren’t necessarily growing or expanding but they are surviving. Their main focus is internal, meaning they are continuously looking for ways to reduce excess costs and improve processes and productivity. They want to ‘do more with less’, so to speak. According to the Accenture research report, companies in this category agree on the following top three main objectives:

1. Cutting Operational Costs
2. Increasing Productivity
3. Automating Core Business Processes

Outperformers, on the other hand, are improving profits and growing. Their main focus is external, meaning they desire to look for new and improved ways (using the latest and greatest technology resources), to improve and expand upon their relationships with customers. To this end, they seek to improve internal processes and communications within their company – but they do it for the purpose of enhancing the customer experience. Outperformers’ top three main objectives are:

1. Providing the Right Information to the Right Person at the Right Time
2. Finding Better Ways to Interact with Customers
3. Delivering New Services or Products to Customers

What This Means to You
Ironically, technology was once blamed for ruining the customer experience. However, many software developers have responded to this by creating more customer-centric applications that enable forward thinking companies to better communicate with customers on a personal level. From tracking what customers are saying on the world wide web, to improving self service options and better predicting customer preference and purchasing behaviors – Outperformers are leveraging technology to improve customer relationships, enhance offerings and create new products and services based on insights derived from an expanded customer focus.

What we see emerging in the world of business is that, those who desire to get by, and those who are determined to be successful, have a very different approach to technology. It is one thing to update your business systems every 5 years in order to ‘clean up’ processes and enhance internal efficiencies; but it is another thing to continuously take advantage of emerging technologies including big data, mobile, cloud, and social media to drive innovation, growth, and profits.

If you are interested in learning more about the kinds of technologies available to assist you in implementing a more customer-centric approach – please contact us today. We would be happy help.