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Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: Customer Focus Promotes Growth

According to Optimize magazine's Defining The CIO research study, growth has shifted to the top of the priority list among the 700 executives surveyed. While streamlining operations and reducing costs remain important, most organizations have delivered and experienced those cost savings and now see larger incremental gains focusing on top-line growth. Business-technology managers are being asked not just to support growth initiatives with technology innovation but to contribute to revenue growth, help expand market share, and improve customer satisfaction. These used to just be the kinds of mandates that only the sales team and line-of-business managers heard (see "Defining The CIO: An Optimize Research Report".

Growth was a central part of a discussion last week at the Optimize CIO Summit in Naples, Fla. Author Michael Treacy of Gen3 Partners posed this question: Can your company sustain profitable double-digit growth? If not, it's dying, he says. Growth of 3% or 4% or 5% isn't healthy. "There's no steady state in business. Either you are growing or you're dying." That might be a bit hard to swallow after a few years of a weak economy, cost cutting, and trying to do more with less. But too often, he says, companies fall back on excuses--the demand isn't there, the market isn't growing, we couldn't add capacity, etc. But instead of focusing on the barriers to growth, you've got to figure out how to grow. And if you think a good strategy is the answer, think again. "Strategy doesn't matter the way most people think," he argues. "The best management team beats the best strategy every single time." And the best thing a management team can do to sustain growth? Commit to superior customer value in everything you do, Treacy says.

For some companies, that means a healthy dose of transformation. For others it means new business models. And for some it might mean new managers and new leaders and new priorities.

P.S.: Speaking of priorities, want to hear what's top of mind for Ralph Szygenda, CIO of GM? Or Sun CEO Scott McNealy? Check out our new Web TV show, The News Show, on Each day you'll find informative stories, thought-provoking commentary, and a little bit of fun. Tune in!

Stephanie Stahl, Editor-in-chief

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Stephanie Stahl's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Stephanie Stahl, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

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