As part of my job I regularly interact with IT and business leaders from companies, across a diverse range of industries. A similarity I see across most businesses is that they contain a bunch of knowledge workers that all need to interact both internally and externally with common parties (internal departments / branches, customers, suppliers, vendors and government / regulatory bodies).
So how do knowledge workers in today’s highly connected world collaborate and communicate? Aside from telephone and face to face communication, email is still the primary tool of communication, why? Because it’s universally accepted and everyone in business has it. . . Is this good or bad? It certainly comes at a cost, being the productivity of your knowledge workers. . .
McKinsey & Company state that ‘the average knowledge worker spends 28% of their day in their email client managing email and searching for information’ (McKinsey)
Now 28% is a significant proportion of one’s day, clawing back some of this time to focus on your core business is what competitive advantage is made of.
Interestingly, from my observations many established companies are slow to embrace technologies beyond email that could help to free up time. If this sounds like your business, surely improving productivity and increasing the focus on whatever it is that your business specialises in is of significant importance and priority?
Technology is an important part of everyone’s business and unfortunately it’s often viewed as a cost centre, rather than being viewed as a tool for competitive advantage.
If provisioning and managing IT services isn’t you’re core business, it will naturally be a deterring factor when considering the assimilation of a new technology within your business processes. This is where cloud technologies provide real agility. There is tangible value to be leveraged, particularly from higher level cloud services. Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings allow you to think differently and treat IT more like a utility (electricity or water) and consume it, ready-made and working, as service. Why not let someone else that specialises in technology run it for you? Best of all SaaS services are super quick to provision (often minutes) and can easily be trialled with low levels of risk or expense.
Competitive advantage is gleamed by making staff more focused and productive. Strive for solutions that provide your organisation with:
- Knowledge retention
– make it easy to seek answers to questions and store your Intellectual property
- Effortless collaboration
– make it easy for your staff to collaborate and communicate with everyone they need to be it inside or outside of your corporate / geographical boundary
- Faster access to information
– don’t make the mistake of making it a 15 step process to access corporate information or documents
- Security and Governance
– choose solutions that have built-in security and governance
So here are my tips for developing agility. . .
If you’re a Start-up, be born in the cloud. . . If you’re a well-established corporation / enterprise perhaps it’s time to think more like a start-up. Be agile, try new things and stay hungry for improvement. To a degree have a simplistic mindset to make things easier.
- Don’t get stuck in the past
– doing things the same way as you did five or ten years ago is a recipe for commercial irrelevance
- Don’t collect Servers
– if you’re not in the business of IT infrastructure, don’t go on a mission to amass a collection of server’s on-premises.
- Establish a cloud presence
– establish a presence with more than one vendor, why use only one? Pick the best bits from multiple vendors
- Think services not servers
– strive for the selection of SaaS and PaaS over IaaS wherever possible.
- Have a strategy for Identity Management
– avoid identity overload and retain centralised control of identity and access
- Be ready to switch
– be open to new solutions and service offerings and agile enough to switch
- Review your existing Infrastructure landscape
– identify candidates for transition to a cloud service, preferably SaaS / PaaS
- Pilot and review some new technologies
– identify processes ripe for disruption, try and seek feedback from your staff
- Keep the governance
– just because it’s in the cloud doesn’t mean you need to abandon your security and governance principles
By dedicating some time and resources, a platform to facilitate quick trial of new services can be achieved. Adopt a hungry mindset, explore cost savings and opportunities to improve productivity.
In Conclusion. . .
Wikipedia define competitive advantage as ‘occurring when an organisation acquires or develops an attribute or combination of attributes that allows it to outperform its competitors’ (Wikipedia). McKinsey & Company’s example of average knowledge worker time spent inside corporate email illustrates the opportunity that exists for improvement on a single front. Many more like this may exist within your business.
Transitioning to anything new can seem daunting. Start by creating a road map for the implementation and adoption of new technology within your business. Discuss, explore and seek answers to questions and concerns you have around cloud services. Adopt a platform that ensures you correctly select, implement and leverage your investment and yield competitive advantage.
If you’re not sure where to start, leverage the skills of others who have been through it many times before. Consider engaging a knowledgeable Kloud consultant to help your organisation with the formulation of a tailored cloud strategy.