Competitiveness “for Dummies”, a message from the CEO

Going back to Olivier Bourrouilh, ROK Solution CEO’s column on French newspaper lecercle.lesechos.fr

In a global market economy, being competitive is no longer an option, it’s about survival.

“I strongly reject shortcuts and simplifications of a somewhat political and controversial nature, which tend to undermine the issue, limiting it to a question of costs, financial, legal or custom-related protection. I reject this because survival is at stake; the situation is more than urgent and actions need to be taken. I reject this because there are tools and technology available that would quickly allow us to gain a competitive edge.

But in order to deal with a threat, or better yet, use it to our advantage, we must perform a proper diagnosis.

We are talking about competitive advantage here, nothing more but nothing less either. This involves markets, products and technology. Provided you haven’t already used methods like absorbing or taking out your competitors, you must consider these two: innovation and optimization. There is no alternative.

Innovation is in my opinion the best method. It consists in delivering a unique and relevant service, which comes from successful R&D, with relatively high prices, margins, and shielded by patents and other protections. Lower margins were once exclusive to industrialized countries. When emerging countries entered global markets, they conveyed lower budgets and considerably weakened competition, in a very short time.

Succeeding in innovation rarely consists in only waiting by a tree for apples to fall on your head. Innovating may be a costly endeavor, but above all, I think it happens thanks to well-structured, coordinated, documented collaboration which is closely monitored in real time and optimized with feedback.

The Web was invented by researchers who needed to communicate to make progress and succeed; today we see collaborative solutions appear, that allow dynamic organization and online collaboration, conveying necessary information and methods, automating the learning process, and transmitting data via voice, image and text. These solutions are efficient when they rest on Cloud technology and user-friendly, even vector interfaces, opening the way to new, scalable navigation.

Innovating at low costs today is possible, and it is new. This kind of innovation has more to do with (collaborative!) intelligence than investments.

The second method is about optimization, but in a broader sense than only unit costs indicators. Costs are a sensible matter, undoubtedly, but have you never, as a manager, had to deal with ignorant, incompetent, unreactive, or even outright lazy collaborators? Have you ever considered what profit could amount from optimizing the way collaborators work by only 5 or 10%, instead of laying employees off in equal proportions, losing potential value in the process?

Optimizing organization structures, sharing and capitalizing on knowledge -from the company as well as its ecosystem- was often a moot point, because it rested on complex tools (BPM, BPA, WF, CM, KM and so on) that were hard to set up, integrate, share and adapt to your company’s obvious mutations. Today, solutions exist and they are integrated, scalable thanks to Cloud technology, and they feature accessible interfaces. They can be quickly implemented, you can adapt costs to your requirements thanks to the SaaS model, and they are immediately operable.

It is very frustrating to see we have immediate solutions available but do not use them; because in doubt, it may be easier to believe the solution doesn’t entirely depend on us.

The available technology has evolved formidably. Younger generations are already adopting them completely, for fun. Let us take time to reconsider our old reflexes, look at the situation from a higher angle, and embrace this new challenge that web tech advances offer us.

After the “web springs”, let us be actors of this competition strategy revolution.”

Author’s note: “Just imagine what could happen to DMV administration waiting lines if we put these solutions at their disposal…”

Olivier Bourrouilh, ROK Solution CEO

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