|Creating Business Value|
A Channel Partners blog by industry thought leaders on understanding, articulating and delivering on the strategic business value of technology in the indirect channel.
Know the Why and the What Solves Itself
By Bob Wise
In his best-selling book "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action," Simon Sinek provides some insight into the power of putting your purpose first. "People don't buy what you do," he contends. "They buy why you do it."
Whether Sinek is explaining the triumphs of Steve Jobs, Orville and Wilbur Wright or Martin Luther King, Jr., he emphasizes that what makes you exceptional is your ability to connect with others in terms of greater goals, objectives and aspirations.
Unfortunately, the communications technology industry is letting its prospective customers down on this front. At present, the industry is mired in excessive product hype. It's engaged in an arms race to pump out cool tools, features and functions that sellers will celebrate in glitzy demos if you'll just enter their trade show booths. Too often, product vendors are selling "shiny objects" as opposed to clearly defined outcomes. They are selling the what, not the why.
At the heart of all this hype, you'll find that product vendors play a diminishing role as markets mature. Buyers want relevant business solutions, not new invitations to technological turmoil.
The organizations that purchase these technologies aren’t trying to win a competition for who has the coolest tools. They want to maximize the value of every communications touchpoint. They spend a great deal to recruit and retain the best talent. They invest time and effort in lining up the right partners. And they work diligently to build client relationships for a lifetime. They want enriched communications and collaboration that make those investments pay off; the communications infrastructure simply has to facilitate those objectives so they can deliver measurable gains to their bottom lines.
To get there, they want to work with partners who can help them achieve business success by optimizing their IT assets through a variety of cloud and on-premise delivery options. The goal is to take advantage of every aspect of their core assets — people, information and processes.
What's needed now is a more strategic and expansive perspective, one that can make business leaders more effective and elevate IT leaders above the fray of fragmented technology rather than one that is solely focused on moving products for the vendors.
To make business communications technology truly strategic, you have to ask why. Why might we rethink our approach to communications and collaboration? Why might a new approach set us apart in the marketplace? Why might our employees, partners and customers value this approach? By diligently addressing these questions, you make communications a catalyst for enduring growth.
The Strategic Levers of Growth
Thinking strategically about business communications is considering the total value equation of a decision. It starts by understanding the performance objectives the business is trying to achieve. And it recognizes there are no all-encompassing, intergalactic product suites — no "silver bullets" — that will fully address these goals. Products must be interoperable, and they must be integrated within a larger framework and network environment.
It's also critical to ensure you are considering performance gains that can multiply over time as opposed to just the hard cost savings that deliver only short-term results. When communications becomes a mere commodity in the minds of IT decision makers, it confers no competitive advantage. That is a huge miscalculation. Total value equations should account for the vast, ongoing returns associated with productive meetings and interactions among professionals.
Strategic approaches to business communications encompass and enable your lines of business. They involve a clear-eyed view of how business gets done — and how business performance can be taken to new levels.
Think of your communications systems and services as strategic enablers at every touch point — for every opportunity you have to come into contact with employees, customers and partners — and consider leveraging these systems and services to achieve growth in activities such as:
- Improving customer relationships
- Increasing revenue
- Reducing cost and capital
- Increasing quality
- Reducing risk
- Capturing valuable data
The underlying communications tools supporting these strategic initiatives, by necessity, must address trends and market drivers such as: user expectations rising as IT budgets diminish; the increase of bring your own device (BYOD) within the enterprise; the rise of mobile/remote/global workers; and the desire for on-demand access to content, colleagues and data. All of these factors are impacting the way organizations operate and make decisions today. Only by fully leveraging these tools as catalysts for growth opportunities can businesses realize their business goals.
One company that understands the value of a strategic approach to business communications is Monsanto, the $11.8 billion bio- and agriculture technology leader. With 21,000 employees spread out across 404 facilities in 66 countries, the company invested strategically to obtain a robust conferencing and communications solution. The company can now deepen interactions with its customers, for instance, by vividly and visually demonstrating how its advanced seeds and weed control products can increase agricultural yields.
Such capabilities not only enable effective meetings within the company, they help it actively engage farmers and other agricultural professionals around the planet. Monsanto has even ensured it can richly communicate with customers in fast growing regions, including parts of Asia and Africa, that have limited telecom infrastructure and challenging tariff policies. Such moves have contributed to strong profits on strong sales.
The future points to business communications as a source of strategic value and competitive differentiation. How you communicate determines how you perform. That's the reason there is now so much riding on the richness of your enterprise's interactions — whether they occur internally or externally. It's why so much is at stake in terms of the quality of your communications, particularly as your platforms and applications are tested by the intensifying demands of mobile, remote and global participants.
You can't, however, truly capitalize on advanced communications technology until you think beyond it. Investing in business communications is all about the vision and the mission.
Start with “why" — focusing on the wider impact you intend to make — and the “what" will lay itself out before you. By taking a strategic approach to business communications, you seize the future.
Bob Wise is executive vice president of West IP Communications , a subsidiary of West Corp. and a leading provider of cloud-based communication applications and services. He can be reached at email@example.com .