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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Change As The Constant, Reflex As The Saviour

Just finished some random reading. Started with Jeane Bliss on customer loyalty and Zappos is profiled therein in detail. Zappos decision making paradigm seems to be centered around making far reaching changes happen as part of their DNA. As Tony Hseih says in his afterword of Jeane Bliss book on customer loyalty –“Decision making not purposefully directed can lead your company down a path and to an unintended conclusion. Products, Services, Companies can be taken down the wrong direction whereas well thought out , purposeful decision making centered around customer needs can make a huge difference to business growth !

The more and more I think of it , decision making gets more impactful when it meets the trajectory of change. Look at Seth Godin’s post on the calculus of change. Seth outlines how how a change in operating systems (from DOS to Windows) made people look at different things – in this case, people began to rethink about choice in word processors. The leader at that time was Word Perfect but when Windows began to take centerstage, World also grew along with it -all this while Word Perfect was not ready on the Windows platform. The closest analogy is in Smartphones and where Android is set to get to the top of the heap, many business are having just an iPhone app and not investing in getting an Android App out fast. The point of maximum disruptive timing is the point where people have to make something new or different to happen, got to make a change and can't be avoided.

Extend this logic. When is the last time when the sales , marketing & customer service function of our business got a refresh – no am not taking about just changing people but the process, measures, response etc. Extend this a litte further – when did the core technologies that run our business enterprise get a meaningful refresh – Am talking about Enterprise Software here. Today emerging technologies revolve around Java, MySQL, Open Source, Cloud Computing, and Web 2.0 Social Media. Clearly, these did not exist in full form when the current enterprise software leaders began to dominate the space. Each one of these forces are powerful forces of disruption .

As the beneficiaries and victims of the technology gap phenomenon can testify. For people in both the camps, everything in their digital lives have changed so much. Today, more than 4 billion people around the world now use cell phones, and for 450 million of those people the Web is a fully mobile experience.Alas the big fat guys of the technology world are so slow to embrace and make them as part of their core offerings. We all know the lessons of history.

Look at what change can do to the employed. The evolution of the role of the employed is indeed remarkable. Thomas Malone believes that we're headed for equilibrium in the global wage market.It may take a decade or two, but at some point, people capable of doing work will get paid roughly the same amount wherever they are. It will happen a lot faster than people think," Malone said. He earlier wrote,"Four decentralized organizational structures—loose hierarchies, democracies, external markets, and internal markets—that will be enabled by technology but centered around enduring human values shall be the dominant model. The shift from "command-and-control" management to "coordinate-and-cultivate," and the new skills that will be required to succeed would become critical to succeed. A framework for determining if a company’s situation is ripe for decentralizing and which organizational structure would be most effective would evolve".

Mckinsey identifies ten important tech-enabled business trends to watch out- Its an important read. For the first six trends, which can be applied across an enterprise, it will be important to assign the responsibility for identifying the specific implications of each issue to functional groups and business units. The impact of these six trends—distributed cocreation, networks as organizations, deeper collaboration, the Internet of Things, experimentation with big data, and wiring for a sustainable world—often will vary considerably in different parts of the organization and should be managed accordingly. Three of the trends—anything-as-a-service, multisided business models, and innovation from the bottom of the pyramid—augur far-reaching changes in the business environment that could require radical shifts in strategy. CEOs and their immediate senior teams need to grapple with these issues; otherwise it will be too difficult to generate the interdisciplinary, enterprise-wide insights needed to exploit these trends fully.

Mckinsey rightly observes, the pace of technology and business change will only accelerate, and the impact of the trends above will broaden and deepen. For some organizations, they will unlock significant competitive advantages; for others, dealing with the disruption they bring will be a major challenge. It’s clear that organizations should incorporate an understanding of the trends into their strategic thinking to help identify new market opportunities, invent new ways of doing business, and compete with an ever-growing number of innovative rivals. Embracing change in every major twist and turn is an absolute must and decision making process that can force technology companies to respond in a timely and efficient manner would bring huge rewards to the stakeholders of the business. To keep trying to change regularly needs to be in the decision framework and DNA of sustainable growth focused business . Watch out for the alternative : Standing still is the kiss of the death and those standing with deep roots would not see such waves of change but when they get affected, it would be a massive hit for them.

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