Using the words from a Bob Dylan song, “The Times They are a Changin’.”
Technology is a key element of our “changing times,” but how does your business ensure that it is applying technology to stay competitive and relevant. How do you align your business ideas to enabling technologies?
Innovative people, your people, are key to that creative process. People with “fertile minds exploring business opportunities and realizing those opportunities through the application of technology.” These people are in your business. You must ensure that those who are tuned into technology are aware of the business needs and you must ensure that your business leaders are aware of technology’s capabilities to address the key initiatives. Create the opportunity for information sharing and collaboration.
There are several tenets to guide you and help you to realize the “best ideas” with technology. They are:
- Leverage the Expertise of Technologists – ensure that your technologists have a “seat at the table” and are a part of the business initiatives discussions, providing recommendations and planning the execution in addition to deploying the new technologies. Technology is everywhere - in the systems deployed, user experience, customer interactions, and is integrated into everything we touch. So as you explore your future business needs, technology must be a part of those conversations and considerations. An integrated approach will determine relevance, applicability and drive business advantage.
- Stay Tuned to Technology Trends - Ensure that your business leaders and IT professionals are interpreting applications of technology to support your business needs; address pains; support plans; enable growth; and realize savings. Schedule periodic briefs via calls/meetings/newsletters to enlighten business leaders employing internal and external insight from resources, including: technical staff, contract staff, analysts, case studies, vendors of products and services.
- Explore Technology's Ability to Address Your Business Needs – define scenarios or hypothesis to prove outcomes based on technical capabilities, business objectives, ability to execute, cost and return. Collaboration must be multi-dimensional – Create a “think tank” or skunk works”. Establish a representative from technology and functional business areas with an executive steering committee. Include internal and external expertise. Find a balance of time and talent for research, consultancy, and advocacy to define options and recommendations.
- Observe Your Competition – How and what is changing? How are they using technology? What products and services have integrated technology enhancing their products and services? What new/unique partnerships have been announced? What is going on “’in the news” that signify future direction of technological investments to enable future products that are customized or individualized?
- Solicit Customer Input and Insights – Use CRM information collected from your customers. Host sales team meetings/discussions to solicit input and suggestions. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys that solicit suggestions for additional features/functions/offerings. How are you using social media? Are communications bidirectional? Explore user groups as a means to gain insight into the needs/requirements and unmet demands of your customers and consumers. Act on the findings!
- Suppliers’ Information Exchange – use the insight and experience of suppliers. This business relationship can help you leverage those relationships to improve: competitive pricing and delivery lead time, inventory management, product and component quality, customer responsiveness, and even to allow suppliers access to your systems providing approved automated actions and events. You can also determine the “best” suppliers, based on quality, price or performance, rewarding those suppliers with more business. Make it easier to do business with you to attract and retain suppliers. Also, often your suppliers see how other companies work and can offer a perspective that provides value based on their insight and suggestions.
Technology today is personalized, integrated, intelligent, collaborative and re-imagined with new deployments, exchanges and platforms that arrive at an ever increasing pace. No longer is it about deploying the latest technology, alone, now it is about the “right” combinations of ideas and technology based on collaboration that happens both internally and externally.
You needn’t look far to see companies that are deploying an “application store” or “crowdsourcing” for add-ons to enhance/extend the base system or platform. These companies are building, deploying and enhancing their products and services deploying functionality created by partners and suggested by users.
A glimpse into the future of your business includes technology that is made more intelligent by combining hardware, software and data. The path to improvement and growth is supported by collective intelligence that is gained from groups of contributors from business leaders and technologists.
Given the possibilities driven by ever changing technology options, we can expect that the conversations at the executive levels in these forward looking companies have changed. Paraphrasing Steve Jobs, “Technology – you can use it to make money, save money or, if you miss it, it can cost you money."
Now as never before we must make a concerted effort to marry ideas with technology. Hooray to the sponsors of environments where ideas are allowed to take root and bloom!
If you’d like help with your technology initiatives, we should talk. We have an organization built and deployed to support your technology needs. Whether strategic or tactical we work with our clients to define, design and deploy the “best” solutions.
We guide you in the use of technology, mining data allowing you to tune-in to your customers through information. Then you can turn-on the technology, integrate the insights and capabilities into your products and services creating a unique experience for your customer or to expand into new markets.
Remember, now, more than ever, the key elements that contribute to any successful solution remain the same: people, process and technology. That is and always has been what we provide - the best solution to meet your goals.
If you would like to talk about your current technology initiatives, please reach out to me or our team of consultants here at Barry-Wehmiller International. Contact me at Pat.McGrath@B-WI.com. Wishing you success in all of your endeavors!
About B-WI: At Barry-Wehmiller International (B-WI) we are proud of our remarkable journey, a journey we began 20 years ago to become who we are today – a trusted, global, people-centric, ‘Total Solutions’ provider with a rich heritage in manufacturing. We take particular pride in our people-centric culture and values.
We have built a strong foundation, we are here to lend a hand and be a guide to our customers with our specialized consulting, technology, engineering and manufacturing talent. We were there then, we are here now and we will be there with you into the future. Welcome to Barry-Wehmiller International.
About the Author: Patricia McGrath is pleased to represent Barry-Wehmiller International, as Director of Strategic Initiatives. B-WI provides consulting and services for manufacturing, engineering, ERP solutions, and specialized development and support services. Pat’s career includes positions with such prestigious companies as IBM and KPMG. While there she focused on strategy, ERP business partners and business consulting, plus having her own company working with others to develop both strategic initiatives and tactical plans.