Shaping Your Business Strategy

By Faisal Hoque  |  Posted 2008-09-02

Determining business technology’s organizational role is a key strategic governance decision that sets the tone for business technology management activities, such as the level of investment, the nature of the applications portfolio, and the type of metrics for evaluating and justifying investments. Business technology has the ability to shape business strategy through the following four roles:

Automate: Transaction and work process automation enable the business goals of higher productivity, low cost and efficiency. Automation helps make it easy to do business with a company because employees, customers and business partners can access services with speed, convenience and some degree of personalization.

Examples include the deployment of customer and employee self-service functions, as well as online sales. An automation vision signals that a firm’s business technology focus will be on seamless enterprise and interenterprise services, global process connectivity and the quest for ever more digitization. Key business value metrics will focus on productivity, cycle time and costs.

Empower: Fast, effective and accurate decision making across an enterprise and its partnership network is accomplished through investments in decision-support tools and technologies, intranets for dissemination of best practices, and extranets for rapid sharing of information with business partners. Empowerment helps make it easy to do business with a company by providing front-end workers with intelligence and decision support in their interactions with customers, business partners and other external stakeholders. Many of these interactions require problem or dispute resolution.

Examples of empowerment include decision-support scripts for call centers and customer service agents, as well as visibility tools in supply chain and logistics processes. An empowerment vision signals that the firm’s business technology focus will be on decision support and knowledge management. Key business value metrics will focus on partner satisfaction, problem-resolution productivity and resolution costs.

Control: Efficient, real-time monitoring of business operations and business partners can be facilitated through practices such as daily close, operational alerts and dashboards with drill-down capabilities. This is accomplished through investments in monitoring tools and technologies and through the design of enterprise risk-management processes.

Control enables the business goals of enhancing transparency of business operations, rapid detection and resolution of management-control issues, and accurate reporting of the key metrics of business performance. The emphasis of the control vision is upon strong financial performance management systems. Key business value metrics include the completeness, accuracy, validity and integrity of the firm’s transactions and decision-making processes; the accuracy, speed and economy of financial reporting; and the effectiveness of financial audits and fraud detection.

Transform: This role involves facilitating the innovation of new business models, new products and services, and new modes of organizing work. The focus here is not as much on the investment in specific business technologies as it is on the development of digital options, digitization of products and services, and experimentation with new business technology-enabled business ideas. Transformation enables the business goals of continuous innovation, agility and competitive disruption. Key business value metrics include the rate of product, process or business model innovation, along with the comprehensiveness and richness of a firm’s innovation portfolio.

Faisal Hoque is chairman and CEO of BTM Corporation.  BTM innovates business models and enhances financial performance by converging business and technology with its unique products and intellectual property. © 2008 Faisal Hoque