Archive for the ‘MC&Co.’s Chairman Corner’ Category

My “5 Cents” on Growing Revenue Through a Smart, Targeted IT Overhaul

Not long ago in the European Business Review, Stephanie L. WoernerPeter Weill and Mark P. McDonald made a case for operational efficiency, arguing that companies can save a lot of money through something called “digital reuse,” that is, the ability to reap operational efficiency by using (and reusing) technological processes already in place and reducing the overall time-to-market.

This analysis is brilliant because it unveils salient ways you can curb costs by streamlining your IT processes as well as injecting consistency, efficiency and stability into your operations.

To get to that level of IT efficiency, you should pay attention to your IT risk management and governance framework along with your overall technology strategy. Here are my five tips on what I think you should specifically do as you embark on your IT streamlining bandwagon:

First, hire a skilled chief technology officer and task him or her with drawing up an IT strategic blueprint. Demand accountability and make sure the blueprint constantly is in sync with your overall operational model, including your company’s IT risk comfort.

Second, think short-term. Figure out how your existing IT processes can deliver value to your business. I always tell clients to focus on the operational part of IT and to attain the right mix of in-house delivery versus outsourcing. If too much value is delivered from outsourcing posts, there exists a medium- to long-term risk that your company will lose competitive prominence.

Third, think long-term. Implement an IT approach to improve your operational and strategic agility, making sure your operational plans mirror the full potential of technology to improve the company’s performance.

Fourth, make sure your existing IT infrastructure is integral to your business delivery processes, most notably your e-commerce approach. I suggest you overhaul your technology strategy and align it with your B2B and B2C tactics. The idea here is to integrate IT in client interactions, be they offline or online—via your company’s website, blog, e-commerce platforms and social-media profiles on outlets as varied as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.

Lastly, construct an IT investment portfolio in sync with opportunities and threats in your industry. In this day and age, trends in IT are quickly altering the basis of competition. As a corporate executive, your goal is to study those trends; zero in on key variables; disregard outlier variables; and come up with an IT roadmap that makes economic, strategic and operational sense.

To your success,

Marquis Codjia

Creating systemic consistency

Last week, a very talented executive at a midsize company sought my opinion on an important question: how to create strategic consistency in her business—amid the myriad challenges, and often competing goals, the organization is facing? My answer was simple: seek consistency in everything you do, from idea conception and analysis to implementation and post-execution review.

Sounds easy enough, right? But you’d be surprised how little attention this topic draws in corporate boards across the world. See, as a manager, your shareholders, bankers and other stakeholders demand consistency from you. And so do your personnel. They may not say it openly, but it certainly is a salient topic in their minds.

How do you achieve consistency?

Three things are important here: corporate culture, clear vision and managerial involvement.

Corporate culture means the “tone at the top.” In other words, how you convey your professionalism and ethical bent to your staff. Are you a “laissez-faire” executive or a hands-on manager? I’m not passing judgment on leadership fitness here, but you must determine your managerial style to ascertain the right steps to take. Time and again, clients are telling me the virtues of clear communication in promoting camaraderie among the top management team, an important mindset that trickles down positively to the rank and file. To create a productive corporate culture, work with your Corporate Communications, Human Resources and Corporate Social Responsibility departments—and craft consistent, clear and frequent content to keep your personnel interested and involved.

Clear vision means you define and stick to a strategic plan, regardless of the whims of financial markets. I know; this is a difficult one. But clients who have remained true to their operational ideals tell me they have been better off over time. Not in one quarter or two years, but over time—meaning a reasonable period to harvest the operational seeds you’ve planted. Timing is essential here, and depending on your company’s situation, you may not have time. But don’t underestimate the importance of vision clarity.

Management involvement doesn’t mean basking in adulation in front of midlevel personnel, hoping they’ll execute your plans right off the bat because you’ve showered them with a few thousand bonus dollars or praised some of them for their unique leadership style.

See, it doesn’t happen that easy, my friend. You should create effective communication channels through which you can get feedback, and act on it. Have periodic town halls and out-of-town excursions to gauge manager morale. Seek their involvement when mulling strategy. I’ve seen that even small involvement can make a manager feel appreciated, which, in turn, boosts his or her morale and overall productivity. Happiness at work augments productivity, you know that already. But what you may not suspect is the overall positive effect that clarity of mind and employee welfare typically have on your bottom line. Don’t take my word for it; just read the brilliant article penned by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton in Harvard Business Review, to see how investing in your staff can create happiness—and a happy uptick in your overall return on investment in the long term.

To your success,

Marquis Codjia