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Thursday 30th May 03:34 (UK)

Step change graph

Step changes

Given the challenges facing businesses, change is needed - and not just incremental change! Medium term success and long term survival require step changes in practice and performance. Businesses need to:

  • Be close and personal
  • Be innovative
  • Be quick
  • Be clever
  • Be a team

Be close and personal

Customer / client closeness is ever more important. Everything starts with the client. That includes understanding their business and getting underneath their expressed wants to determining their underlying needs - this is where significant innovation starts. Increasingly companies and consumers demand personalised products and services. Businesses which can provide this are immediately able to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Mass Customisation is the future for many companies making high volume standard products and also for service organisations where every project is 'one of a kind' - with high consequent cost.

Be innovative

Innovation is a major differentiator, if that potential can be delivered to the customer through products and services that offer more value than competition. How can this be done? By establishing a culture and leadership that encourages innovation and risk-taking; processes that identify new ideas, selects and brings the best to market quickly; utilising IT to enable these processes and provide a mechanism for sharing knowledge. Successful and sustainable innovation requires an holistic business model built on these foundations.

Be quick

Providing a responsive supply chain to fulfil customer orders effectively (and ideally at low cost) is vital in competitive markets today. A rapid response to customer requests means the product or service must be provided equally as fast to keep up. It was the lack of this capability which hit many of the dot.com companies. Service organisations need to streamline their service delivery, web-enabling where possible. Product organisations need to focus on supply chain management and Agility.

Be clever

In today's global market, all business practices can ultimately be communicated and copied by others. Your best people can be poached. New machines and IT applications can be bought off the shelf. Replicating business processes is more difficult and replicating an organisation's culture and knowledge the most difficult of all. Creating a business culture which empowers its people, encourages and rewards innovation and risk-taking is a powerful competitive weapon. Supporting this with effective business processes and leveraging IT to help the collection, codification and communication of an organisation's knowledge will deliver the highest return on your people assets.

Be a team

In our e-business-enabled global business world, vertical integration is out and horizontal integration is in. The ability to find and easily work with partners, offering world-class competencies at a transaction cost less than that attainable within a company's own organisation has driven leading companies to a core competency focus. Thus, they outsource activities which are non-core and which they are not world class at performing. They then link with these partners using the internet to do business. They may have an HQ in the USA, design partners in Sweden and the UK and use a manufacturing company in Singapore, but they can still work together on a minute-to-minute basis using the internet.

However, good IT alone is not enough. Relationship management is also critical, embodying key issues such as trust, partner management, expectations management and communication. But getting it right makes a company massively effective and responsive. It’s about effective communication and collaboration.

How can you go about making the major changes outlined above and sustain them in the longer term? Turn to our services section to find out...


What is causing all this change?

Some of drivers can be:

  • New Technology
  • Customer Power
  • Time Compression
  • Global Competition
  • Environmentalism
  • ‘March of the Web’

See our short articles on innovation:

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