B/T – The Yin and Yang of Business And Technology Strategy

Once upon a time, the general thinking in management science was that business strategy drove technology strategy, and that technology strategy enabled business strategy through operational and analytical systems.  The trend began with the operational systems that supported transaction processing, and migrated to the analytical systems that provided information for managerial decision making and competitive advantage.

The term “strategy” means the beneficial positioning of an enterprise in marketplaces so as to deliver value over time; the “term” enterprise applies to for profit businesses, and not-for-profit activities. Business strategy determines products and services, markets, constituencies, the related infrastructure (functions, processes, facilities, and equipment), and the both the human and financial capital requirements to deliver value.  Technology strategy addresses the information, processing, and telecommunications requirements in terms of applications, data and databases, hardware, systems software, and communications infrastructure, and the associated human and financial capital requirements.

bdteOld model

As information, process control, and telecommunications technologies became interconnected, especially as a consequence of the internet, and systems were able to operate in real-time model between suppliers, employees, and customers in enterprise, supply chain, and demand chain management activities, the role of technology shifted to both a driver and enabler of business strategy.  The role impacts all functions of a business including legal, finance, human resources, research and development, business development, operations, and the information technology function itself.

bt

 New model

With the development of mobile technologies for business and personal use for professional, vocational, and social applications, and the trend towards “bring your own device,” business and technology strategy now have a “yin and yang” relationship, whereby business and technology disciplines are complementary and form an interconnected and interdependent relationship. For businesses that offer technology-based products and services, the relationship between the two disciplines is even tighter.  What started as a discipline known as electronic data processing (EDP), that migrated to information technology (IT), has now migrated to “B/T,” the blend of business and technology strategy and execution for competitive advantage.

Even a startup business in any industry has a list of technology issues that it has to address together with its business strategy in order to be at parity or better with its competitors. It has to be able to communicate effectively with employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and regulators on their technological terms.

The list of issues for all enterprises includes the scope of:

. Enterprise, supplier, and customer relationship management applications and databases

(Enterprise management applications include financial, management, and regulatory
accounting and reporting)

. Website, mobile, email, and productivity applications

. Professional and social networking applications

. Electronic payment and data interchange applications

. Onsite and remote, cloud, and mobile platforms

. Data privacy and security requirements

Key decisions have to be made regarding what is insured and what is outsourced.  A general rule is to outsource utility functions and processes that don’t impact competitive advantage, and insource strategic functions and processes that do.  For example, payroll processing is almost always a candidate for outsourcing in most enterprises, except perhaps very large institutional enterprises that may have complex human resource issues.  Many small to mid-size enterprises use professional employment organizations (PEOs) for human resources management.  However, an application that is mission critical to the business, especially in the supply or demand chains may be better in sourced.  For example, an elearning  company might outsource its enterprise management application, but insource its online curriculum delivery systems.  Decisions to insource or outsource information technology functions may be made on a case-by-case basis, such as for application development, enhancement, and maintenance, and hardware, systems software, and network management. In general, development activities are better outsourced to highly skilled professionals, where as maintenance work may be insured.  By comparison, facilities construction is outsourced to general contractors, who in turn use subcontractors, whereas facilities maintenance may be insourced.

All businesses require a Chief Information Officer position for internal information and process management. Those businesses that offer technology-based products and services may require a separate Chief Technology Officer position that focused on markets and customers. In emerging enterprises, these positions may be shared with other roles, whereas in institutional enterprises these positions may oversee large organizations. These positions are an essential part of the executive team that determines the future direction of the enterprise.

The Guide To Business Leadership Development

Every individual who starts, owns, or is a member of the management team of an enterprise, should strive to build sustainable advantage. Sustainable advantage is essential to value creation because cash flows become predictable and reliable over long periods of time. As a consequence, it is easier to plan for investments in new endeavors and to maintain contingency reserves for downturns.

Building sustainable advantage requires proficiency in the disciplines of entrepreneurship, leadership, and management. Collectively, these three disciplines embrace “enterpriship.”

Enterpriship is both an art and a science. Art is an occupation that requires both knowledge and skills; science is method for systematizing knowledge. Through both knowledge and skills, enterpriship provides a systematized approach to building sustainable enterprises by employing the techniques of entrepreneurship, leadership, and management.

Entrepreneurship is a competency for starting, developing, and assuming risk for an enterprise. Leadership is a competency for aspiring, inspiring, and motivating others. Management is a competency for directing and controlling events and activities – management as a “team” has the authority and responsibility for the enterprise.

Being proficient in all three competencies requires experience. Entrepreneurs may lack the leadership and management competencies, leaders may lack entrepreneurial and management competencies, and managers may lack the entrepreneurial and leadership competencies to build a sustainable enterprise.

Upwardly mobile entrepreneurs have to demonstrate to investors that they can build large markets. Lifestyle business enterprise owners, such as dry cleaners, hairdressers, professional service providers, restauranteurs, and retailers, are responsible for everything in their businesses. Executives and managers in larger enterprises are under constant pressure from investors to generate quality earnings on an ongoing basis.

The enterprise depends upon the use of all three enterpriship competencies as do the employees, customers, suppliers and investors.

When entrepreneurs start enterprises, they tend to focus on the benefits and features of their products and/or services. Intrapreneurs, who are agents of change in established enterprises, tend to do the same thing. However, focusing on products and/or services alone is insufficient for building sustainable advantage over time.

Without people there is nothing in business. Processes must be effective and efficient at delivering quality products and/or services conveniently. If an enterprise can’t deliver, a competitor will.

Hence, the management team collectively must be proficient in entrepreneurial, leadership, and managerial roles that dictate successful people-oriented, process-oriented, and product and/or service capabilities.

  • The entrepreneurial role is both process-oriented and product-oriented, through which innovative ideas are transformed into value at every stage of an enterprise’s development.
  • The leadership role is people-oriented, through which direction is set that others will follow to achieve results – equally applicable to top-level executives, team leaders within functions, or anywhere in between.
  • The managerial role is process-oriented, through which resources (time, materials, and supplies) are applied to activities to achieve results.

These three roles embrace the planning and policy development, deployment and execution, and performance measurement activities of the enterprise. Deployment means positioning the resources of the enterprise in the best markets for its products and/or services. Execution means getting things done through people and processes effectively and efficiently.

Unless the management team employs these three enterpriship competencies collectively to address people, process, and product and/or service capabilities, the enterprise will be unable to build sustainable advantage over time, and will ultimately decline, and maybe fail.

If the management team can systematize building sustainable advantage through the effective and efficient use of people and processes, then there is more time to spend on developing the benefits and features of products and/or services. Enterpriship provides the approach.

For more information, go to: The Guide To Business Leadership Development

Three secrets to becoming a successful entrepreneur

There are many secrets to becoming a successful entrepreneur – three of the most significant are a demonstrated and infectious passion, a focused mission and vision, and relentless execution.

 

1. A demonstrated and infectious passion

 

If an entrepreneur does not demonstrate passion about their venture, it is unlikely that anybody else will.  It is important that an entrepreneur demonstrates their passion such that it rubs off on co-founders, employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and the community-at-large. These constituencies, in turn, should become loyal to and promote the venture if the entrepreneur’s passion is infectious. A good test of an entrepreneur’s passion is when competitors start to emerge.  Where feasible, the entrepreneur must be using the product and/or services for their own purpose, and must never be seen with a competitor’s except to demonstrate superiority.

 

2. A focused mission and vision

 

It is important that an entrepreneur focus on well articulated mission and vision statements, and communicate them clearly. A mission is both an aspirational and an inspirational statement of purpose, supported by a set of high-level objectives, and addressing core competencies. A vision is an inspirational statement of a future state (reasonably achievable) within the context of a longer-term aspiration (dream).  Vision statements may have two components: external and internal.  An external vision is a statement of what a community (local-to-global) can become as a consequence of the enterprise’s activities, and the products and/or services that it offers.  An internal vision is a statement of what the enterprise itself can become to its constituencies.

 

3. Relentless execution

 

Entrepreneurship is about causing change – causing customers to switch products and/or services, or use something that they have never used before.  That requires that art of persuasion, and the ability to relentless deliver quality products and/services (almost) flawlessly. However, before new products and/or services can be delivered, an infrastructure has to be in place to produce and deliver them, which may require considerable financial and human capital to deliver. Building infrastructure requires project management and team building disciplines, as does the development of customer products and/or services.  Thus, the entrepreneur is faced with building an enterprise that has both project-oriented and process-oriented disciplines for ongoing product and/or service delivery.  Building the enterprise requires being able to identify the appropriate talent for various tasks, and building a team because together everyone achieves more.

 

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Ekwity.com is a platform that helps entrepreneurs define projects and source talent for them.  It also enables individuals to define their core competencies in a such as way as to be attractive to entrepreneurs and investors.  TechKnowPartners has been working with Ekwity, Inc. in shaping the platform.

Financial Performance Measures

Lenders, investors, and other interested parties review financial measures of performance of enterprises for making credit, acquisition, and divestiture decisions. These measures are also of interest to regulators, such as taxing authorities, who use them for trend analysis.

If lenders, investors, and regulators are reviewing certain measures of financial performance of an enterprise, then management must be also.

The managerial role is about applying resources to activities to achieve results, and is conducted within the context of planning and policy development and performance measurement activities.

For the rest of this article, go to: Financial Performance Measures

A Quick Overview Of The Earned Value Concept

Earned value in project work is the budgeted cost of work performed at standard or actual rates if budgets are not used. Determining earned value is a managerial accounting technique. Measuring earned value as work progresses is an essential project management technique.

For the rest of this article, go to:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/36820817/A-Quick-Overview-Of-The-Earned-Value-Concept

A Quick Overview Of Project Accounting

It is essential for every contractor to have an effective accounting process to track revenues and expenses by project. This article emphasizes the concept of project accounting in the construction industry. However, the concept applies in many other disciplines, such as job or project-based manufacturing and systems development activities.

For the rest of this article, go to: A Quick Overview Of Project Accounting