Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leveraging information technology to revitalize mature industries and marketplaces 7: adding in a competitive context 2

Posted in business and convergent technologies, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on February 12, 2014

This is the seventh installment in a series in which I discuss and analyze businesses as information management systems, and in which I characterize their competitive strength and marketplace capabilities in corresponding information technology implementation terms (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 273 and loosely following for Parts 1-6.)

I have been writing up to here in this series, about how businesses and their operational and strategic processes are mapped by and supported by their information systems, and how businesses can be viewed in information management terms. And I began that analytical process from a within the business perspective, looking at its internally facing operations and their supporting strategy. I then widened this discussion to include participation in supply chain and other business-to-business collaborations. And I then widened this still further to bring in the larger competitive context.

At the end of Part 6 I stated that my goal for this installment is to more specifically look at those information systems themselves, and from both a single business versus single business perspective, and from a supply chain versus supply chain perspective. And I begin that here with the single business perspective. Note that the installment specifying phrase in the title to this posting is “adding in a competitive context 2” and I highlight that here as ultimately, this entire discussion and in fact this entire series is about businesses as they come into form and participate in actively competitive marketplaces, where that competition serves as a primary driver of business performance excellence. As a slight digression, reduction in competition and of competitive pressures, which as an extreme case come from granted monopolies, leads to reduced pressures to achieve or maintain business excellence and this usually leads to a loss of business performance excellence.

But to return to the core line of discussion of this posting, my goal for it is to outline and at least begin to discuss a process cycle, in which:

1. Information systems are strategically assessed,
2. New and emerging needs are identified
3. And possible technology and technology-use updates are identified that might address them,
4. A determination is made as to both the costs and benefits of addressing these needs, and the costs and any benefits that might accrue from not doing so (e.g. a more stable short term cash flow and liquidity availability, or more cost-effective maintenance of ongoing larger-scale business processes where an update in one area would create disruptions elsewhere in the business organization),
5. A strategic map is developed for setting goals and priorities in selecting what of this set of options to develop and implement and what of this not to do, and for which specific identified technology-based solutions,
6. Approved fixes and updates are implemented with project management oversight,
7. And results are monitored and analyzed to complete the cycle.

I stress here that the above seven point checklist is a simplified representation of what becomes a more complex process cycle when actually carried out – it this is approached from a rigorous strategic process. But for many businesses, this is in fact more complex than actual policy or practices in place with executives from within and from outside of Information Technology insisting on inclusion and implementation of their favorite “hot new technologies” simply because they are new and receiving a lot of press coverage, or because they have developed marketing buzz in their business’ industry.

• The goal here should be to identify and implement best approach technologies,
• And in ways that connect into and support that business’ overall operations and strategy,
• And that are best for it as it addresses the challenges of its marketplace.

And this applies when the business is competing as a stand-alone locally owned and run organization against the competitive pressures of other same-industry locally owned businesses. This applies to larger, multiple storefront enterprises as they compete, and both against single site businesses and when they compete against other chain operations. Note in this context that when a store outlet competes as the sole representative of a chain store business against a single-location local enterprise, they may have larger organization backing and large-business economies of scale, for example in making purchases, but for many other details (e.g. local marketing and local name recognition where local per se is important to the market) they are not necessarily going to gain big business advantages, overall. This gets complex in practice.

This up to here has all focused on business versus business contexts. I am going to switch to consider supply chains in my next installment, and as a foretaste of that note that I will be discussing that from a context that in biological terms is called natural selection and that I will be discussing a specific area of natural selection theory called group selection. 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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