Technological advancements have changed the business landscape beyond recognition. Where previously decades could go by without any alterations to systems, now updates can take place daily. As a result, business leaders are having to adjust the way they approach both the management of their companies, and their business models. In this rapidly changing business world, there are three key considerations business leaders must take to keep pace – adapting to the market, creating a single data view and prioritising agility.
Adapt to the market
All too often companies treat technology and business as separate entities but while this may have been practical in the past when technology was relatively rudimentary and primarily related to emails and word processing, it is no longer effective. In the current market technology is the dominant force, and making the effort to stay up to date can be the difference between being successful and falling behind. Therefore, these conditions require the unification of business and technology. Only when the two are combined can companies adapt to market conditions successfully.
Adapting to market conditions may seem like an impossible task due to the overwhelming number of technology options companies are presented with, but the adjustments required do not have to be monumental. It could be that a company must entirely revamp its approach or introduce an entirely new range of products, but for many companies this is not the case. Often, businesses find that the necessary changes can be achieved by altering a current product to meet the new requirements. By combining technology and business, companies have a stronger foundation for monitoring market conditions and making these adjustments in a timely manner than if the two are treated as separate entities.
Create a single data view
In this age of technology, companies are sitting on an incredible resource – data. Every day companies generate huge amounts of data, from employee data to financial data to customer data, all of which have different potential benefits for the company if utilised effectively. If left untapped, the companies that are sitting on top of these unmined treasure troves are missing significant opportunities for growth.
The first step towards creating a single data view is to assess what kinds of data your company is generating, which departments currently hold that data, and whether the data is up to date. It is easy to assume that each department should handle their own data because it is most obviously relevant to them. For example, it might be assumed that customer data - age, gender, region, and interaction history - should be managed by the customer relations department. This assumption is made because, in its most direct form, this data can help enhance the customer experience while enabling businesses to be more targeted in their marketing.
However, separating customer data from financial data - profit and loss figures, revenue growth - detracts from the potential impact that this data could have on the modelling of a business’ financial strategy, forecasting and even fundraising targets. Similarly, HR teams generate employee data – age, length of service, salary, absence records – which is often used to form internal policies relating to staff retainment but, if shared across departments, could be universally useful. HR data has significant potential benefit for finance teams as employees are an expensive asset to a company so having an insight into turnover/retention rates would be useful for forecasting purposes.
Creating a single data view is much more valuable than a ‘data ownership’ culture where siloing of this information prevents companies from extracting and utilising potentially valuable business insight. It can seem like an overwhelming task for businesses but, in this age of technology, tools are available to help streamline the process. As well as using available technology, businesses should try to create a data-driven mindset whereby senior management highlight the importance of data and drive a culture of data mining and sharing across departments. Once this new culture has been built it will be easier for companies to maintain a data sharing environment and eventually it will become integral to the business culture.
Make agility a priority
A major component of technology is agility, from regular updates to your phone’s operating system to health tracking step counters, technology is constantly adapting and upgrading. If your business model hasn’t been updated since it was first created and there is no section addressing the use of technology, then chances are that your company is not well equipped to deal with the new technological landscape. Agility needs to become a central pillar in business’ foundations and a key internal policy that is at the forefront of all major decisions.
Once agility has become ingrained into the structure of companies, they will be able to accommodate the rapid change that comes hand in hand with a technological landscape. Without this focus on agility, companies will get left behind as they struggle to adapt to new changes before they become old news. A key part of this process is harnessing data and ensuring that all employees have been guided by senior management towards this new technology-focused future.
The three considerations explored here will make the process of expanding business models easier for companies, but this is not a quick fix. It takes time and dedication to keep up to date with the technological landscape and companies have to be prepared to adapt and swap out the old for the new.
Tod Nielsen, President and CEO, FinancialForce