The CEO and the CFO have finally stopped talking about cost cutting and are once again talking about growth and new business opportunities. Good news: Taking risks has returned as part of the strategy. The director of business development, Ned Narrowview, has spent weeks putting together the perfect new-business proposal. The head of marketing, Shelly Shortsighted, supports it, and the head of sales, Pete Parochial, is eager to rally the team around it. The proposal is jam-packed with market data, revenue goals, a slick go-to-market PR strategy, and information about competitive threats. The document is perfect. The CEO will love it. The board of directors will be impressed. Morale around the company will improve because creative new ideas are being supported. Then, the morning the business proposal is supposed to be presented to the executive board, the CIO asks Ned why he left out several potentially major competitors. "What do you mean? I've provided a competitive analysis of everyone we've competed head-to-head with for the past decade," he responds. Everyone except the major automobile maker with a gazillion customers that just revealed it's getting into the market. Ned calls in sick.
As businesses continue to diversify and look for new revenue streams, trying to figure out who your competition is or will be is getting harder. Perhaps Carly Fiorina said it best during a speech in Monaco last week: "We can already see the edges of traditional industries dissolving. In many cases, it's becoming harder and harder to define who your customers and partners are--even who your competitors may be."
Staying relevant and redefining yourself may be more critical than honing your core competency. And the more tightly your business and IT are aligned, the more agile you'll be.
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