The news is clear: Economic slowdown is here and will visit for a while. Thanks to the Internet, the recession is global, and it is clear every country and industry will face challenges. As entire industries prepare to hibernate through this economic winter, which could last another 18 months, the natural question is how should companies prepare for the new spring time, for it will promise to be a wild one with new or remodeled players taking the lead.
How should a company proceed in preparation? Any company wishing to emerge from the slowdown in a better position needs to think about efficient execution and challenging old assumptions about efficiency, investments, cost cutting, and wining market share. And they need to strategize and plan to invest now. Why? Because any strategic change for a global enterprise will involve investments in IT, and right now is the time to strike bargains in hardware, skilled staff and consultants while all vendors are scrambling to make revenue.
The winners that will emerge from this recession will race ahead as leaner, more efficient, more agile, and less burdened by legacy infrastructure. These companies will be bold enough to invest in IT to shrink long-term energy costs, get real-time information to their revenue generators and client support staff, get their own employees to collaborate more efficiently without the need to travel as often, and most important, give their executives coordinated, correlated information that lets them react to the state of business in days, not months.
It means making IT a strategic enabler to provide comprehensive, real-time information, it means that the key business processes and the entire value chain of a business line can be explored from an investment point of view. It means that clients and consumers are given immersive, flexible context sensitive experiences at the enterprise Web site that creates a compelling, rewarding and educational experience so that clients prefer to return to that site instead of holding for service at the call center. It means that service is a positive differentiator that rewards clients, not a cost sink that is minimized by dumping the problem off-shore.
IT becomes the strategic enabler for the new winners, and that won't happen unless companies understand that a key priority is to clean up the IT mess that was never fixed from last two business booms. Flexible, dynamic, responsive IT operating platforms will propel these emergent winners.
The service orientation of IT is the vision, and that journey starts with business and IT alignment towards creating a real-time infrastructure that can be run as a utility, providing new or revised services on the resources required when needed. The journey continues with the design, implementation, and operation of enabling technologies that let the business try new endeavors, containing risk. The enterprise realizes its first level of maturity when it can consistently enacts its strategy with IT in a sustainable manner. Business can then execute with agility, and IT becomes the digital analog of the business.
Hibernation is recuperative, but the vision and execution is critical to ensure you will remain at the top of the food chain in the new springtime.