Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Technology as the tide that raises all boats 2: the challenge of securing an infrastructure technology advantage

Posted in outsourcing and globalization, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on November 14, 2012

This posting is a continuation of one that went live just over half a year ago on April 11, 2012 (see Technology as the Tide that Raises All Boats – and the narrowing of the competitive edge.) I wrote in that posting about how innovation effectiveness, and the threshold for any given change to even qualify as a meaningful innovation shift as an industry matures. I continue that here with a discussion of innovation and its role in securing competitive advantage through development of more effective business infrastructure. And the point I would start from here is two-fold:

• Businesses are increasingly operating in a globally innovation-rich environment, with new technology innovations arising within industries and diffusing across traditional barriers between them. This definitely applies to information technology, but the impact of this cornucopia of technology and best practices implementation options extends way beyond the already wide reach of information technology per se.
• And this creates new avenues for development of competitive advantage for businesses and business strategists and operational managers who can more effectively and cost-effectively select the right technologies and the right third party best practices, in the right implementations to meet the specific current and evolving needs of their specific business models and their strategic and operational goals and priorities.

If a rising tide raises all boats, capacity to more effectively select and utilize innovation options from this raising flood can still make a difference.

I have written a number of times of lean and agile in business processes and operations in this blog (see for example my series Strategic Planning and the Process of Strategy at Business Strategy and Operations – 2, postings 314 and loosely following.) I add the term nimble here too. And in this context and as a working definition I note that:

• A nimble business is one that is competitively effective in selecting out of the sea of openly available technology implementation options, those specific technologies and best practices and knowledge resources that would most effectively work for it in helping it create and maintain a competitive edge. And more than just selecting these right tools, the nimble business is effective in making them its own as functionally important and value creating components to its specific systems and infrastructure.

I have written a number of times about open innovation in this blog and about the consequences of so much knowledge and expertise being available from outside of the organization (see for example my series Crowd Sourcing, Open Innovation and Open Organization at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time as postings 36 and loosely following) and this posting fits into that general topic area too.

• When resources are freely available and in seemingly endless diversity and capability, the one real path to competitive advantage available through them is in selecting the right resources from the flow and implementing them more effectively than your competition can.

This, I add, still leaves open the question of short term and long term value and sustainability, and as a working example of that I am going to post a third installment to this now-series, examining some of the issues that arise from automatic, computer algorithm driven high speed financial trading. Meanwhile, you can find this series and related postings at Outsourcing and Globalization and at Business Strategy and Operations – 2, and also see Business Strategy and Operations.

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