By James Stirk, VP & General Manager EMEA at FinancialForce
Well planned and managed business models are key to a company’s success at all stages of growth. However, while it once might have been typical to update business models at key milestones or after major market events, this is no longer the case. Even though many companies find this process to be extremely challenging, it is necessary. Now, the world moves and adapts at an electric pace and, no matter the size of an organisation, expanding or refreshing business models regularly is necessary to maintain operational success and remain competitive.
Adjust to market conditions
A key aspect of refreshing business models is understanding and analysing market conditions and adjusting accordingly. This may involvea complete business shake up and the launch of new products to fill a gap in your current offering or rebranding or repositioning a current product. Either way, it is important to evaluate all the options before making a decision, especially in the current landscape where fluid business models are becoming the norm. These adjustments do not have to be drastic, and companies can find success with the smallest of changes. As long as businesses keep an eye on the market and recognise where changes could be made then adjusting will be achievable.
This process of adjusting is made significantly easier if companies harness technology rather than viewing business and technology as separate entities. The tendency for this separation has often inhibited collaboration, processing flexibility and led to project delays.Adjusting perspective and uniting business and technology into a single, cohesive entity will enable companies to stay on top of market conditions and remain competitive.
Adjusting to the market and working out where you need a new product or where an old product can be revamped can be difficult to navigate. However, if you use your existing data to its full potential it can serve as a guide through this process. Organisations are constantly gathering and producing huge amounts of data, but not all know how to get the most out of this treasure trove of information at their fingertips.
Businesses hold different types of data that is used in different ways. Customer data – age, gender, region, and interaction history –can be used to improve the customer experience and help businesses be more targeted in their marketing. Financial data –profit and loss figures, revenue growth – is more useful for shaping a business’ financial strategy, forecasting and, if relevant, fundraising targets. Different again in terms of breakdown and use is employee data which could be used to shape internal policies to drive staff retainment and increase productivity.
As these different data types are generated by different departments (customer data from sales and customer services etc.), a culture of ‘data ownership’ often emerges, and valuable data stores become siloed in their respective departments.
However, this data is valuable across the entirety of the business, and an open data culture must be established so as to extract as much business insight out of it as possible.It’s also important that enough time and energy is dedicated to ensuring that company data is accurate and up to date. The most efficient companies have a single view of their data across all departments, enabling a clear view into where changes can be made without causing disruptions. If the data is scattered and unmonitored then it is a wasted resource. Therefore, a key step towards updating your business model is to build a single, comprehensive view of this data.
Creating a single view of all this data requires software that facilitates proper integration of applications and data across departments. This enables a data-driven mindset within an organisation. Technology has advanced to the extent that this single view of data is an achievable goal and should be a high priority for all senior management.
These two steps need to be complemented by enforcing an agile business model.It’s no use adapting to new changes in the market a year after they happen, they’ll already be old news. The technological landscape is so fast paced that companies need to have the infrastructure to cope with rapid change. The start-up landscape means that from nowhere a company staffed by an ambitious, determined team can disrupt an otherwise stagnant industry and become your biggest competitor. Just look at the challenger banks, since their launch legacy banks have had to adapt and refresh their mobile banking options to keep up.
Agility is key to changing business models, but it is also fundamental to all aspects of running a business, rather than just being a buzzword tick box, it should be a priority.