Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leveraging information technology to revitalize mature industries and marketplaces 1: reconsidering business evaluations and categorizations

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 9, 2014

There are many valid ways that businesses can be evaluated and categorized, and I add in this context that a traditional by-industry classification, based on types of products and services offered, and type of marketplace for them is still a valid one. I add that I expect that to remain true through any foreseeable future too. But I begin this posting by noting that a business can also be viewed as an information development and management system in that all business processes and all operational and strategic decisions and their follow-throughs are information based. So it can also be valid to evaluate and classify businesses according to how they manage and use information.

• From a traditional by-industry perspective, businesses are evaluated for their competitive strength in terms of the competitive marketability of their products and services and their capacity to generate revenue streams and profits from them. Consider this an externally measured, marketplace-based standard.
• From an information systems perspective, those same businesses can be evaluated according to the efficiency and effectiveness, and the due diligence risk management of their business processes and systems – their of-necessity information based processes and systems. And this is largely a more internally measured standard as it can be applied when comparing between businesses, or it can be applied just as cogently within a business when mapping out its current capabilities and what they can be developed into – or away from.

Both perspectives are important, and particularly in our emerging 21st century business and marketplace context, driven as it is by competitive pressures to leanly and effectively perform, and with agile capacity to adapt to ongoing change.

I write this as the first installment to a new series, in which I will examine competitive capabilities and capacity to adapt and change in terms of that second, information systems-based approach. And I will address this set of issues both in the context of:

• Actively competitive industries and their marketplaces, where ongoing change and capacity to meet its needs and opportunities define these businesses, and
• Mature and even seemingly moribund industries and their marketplaces where change has become rare, and where marketplace strength and position depend more on name brand recognition in maintaining connections to established customer bases – but where competitive strength creating change is also still a possibility.

I begin this discussion here by noting that:

• Businesses participating in more actively competitive industries and their marketplaces are more likely to already be aware of the competitive potential inherent in their information systems – but they still might be developing and managing them from a more ad hoc approach and certainly when building them to align with and support overall operational and strategic systems.
• Businesses participating in more mature industries and their marketplaces are more likely to think and plan and execute strictly in terms of a more traditional industry-based vision of what they are and what they could be. So innovative change from among their same-industry ranks, or from an outsider breaking into their market space is more likely to completely blind side them, catching them unprepared and entirely off-guard.

This series is about innovative change, as driven by reimagining and redeveloping business-enabling information systems, as a path to greater competitiveness and in a business’ traditional marketplaces, and as a path forward for more effectively meeting the needs of new markets too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next installment where I will discuss developing and applying cutting edge, new and emergent information technologies to create disruptively new competitive strength and resiliency. And as a foretaste of that I note here that “new” is context-dependent. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and also at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. You can also find this and other related material at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2 and at the first page to that directory.

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