Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Interoperability, third party provider support and first mover advantage – 1

This is a posting about strategic and operational planning, and when working with both supply chain and larger value chain partners, in complex business ecosystems. It is also about a topic area that I have written about in the past in this blog, that I said I would return to: deciding what to do and retain in-house and what to outsource or bid-out to business partners (see my 10 part series on Virtualizing and Outsourcing Infrastructure, at Business Strategy and Operations, postings 127 and scattered following.)

In part 10 of that series, I wrote in part that:

• A business or organization needs to be disciplined, in developing and maintaining resources and infrastructure that support core capabilities and strategic plans and goals, and
• It is also necessary to maintain and cultivate a flexibility and a level of reserve that can help it to both identify and move into new opportunity.

I wrote that in the context of having already stated that a business should maintain, develop and produce its unique value proposition in-house wherever possible.

I find myself thinking of the Li and Fung Group (and see Outsourcing as a Business Paradigm – 6) and how they globally outsource, and through dynamically changing supply chains that are set up and optimized to meet specific business needs of the moment.

• Fung, V.K., Fung, W.K. and Wind, Y. (2008) Competing in a Flat World: building enterprises for a borderless world. Wharton School Publishing.

The core issue I want to discuss in this posting is that of what constitute a business’ true unique value propositions.

• I have noted many times in the course of writing this blog that a true, defining unique value proposition can arise anywhere in a business’ products or services, or in its business operations – anywhere in what it does that impacts upon the marketplace and its consumers. So I have defined the unique value proposition with a broad brush as potentially covering any of a great deal of areas of business activity and productivity.
• At the same time I have focused in and have stated that a unique value proposition can be very narrow and specific to just one area of what might at first glance seem to be a simple, monolithic process. Company A makes tee shirts but tee shirts per se are not their unique value proposition. Tee shirt designs, and their specific designs are their unique value proposition. But no, they crowd source there, so in fact their unique value proposition is even more focused and process-limited than that of shirt designs per se. It is in how they crowd source designs and integrate their best of breed selections into their in-house design and production systems, working with their own in-house systems and facilities and their outside partners to create efficient, mutually beneficial long term value. And the uniqueness of what they do might in fact primarily reside in specific steps and approaches they take within this too.

A single business can hold multiple tightly focused and step-specific sources of unique value that are scattered throughout its operations and its products and services – and have at best only a partial understanding of precisely where they are in their overall organization. It might only hold a partial inventory list as to where it might even be able to find sources of unique value that would set it apart in its marketplace, with that primarily spotlighting its direct products and services as they go out its doors.

This is a first posting in a new series on unique value propositions, and on understanding and advancing them while working within complex supply chain and value chain systems. As I note in the series title, this brings in issues of interoperability and having products and processes that work together and across supply chains. It certainly also includes working with third parties that also seek to define themselves through their unique value propositions, and first mover advantages enter in here too. But I begin with discussion and consideration of those unique value propositions themselves. And my next series installment is going to focus on identifying them and augmenting them as sources of unique value.

You can find this posting and series at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and at Outsourcing and Globalization as the supply chain and value chain business ecosystems that are discussed here are increasingly global in reach and participation. You can also find related postings at Business Strategy and Operations and its continuation page, Business Strategy and Operations – 2.

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