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11/15/2001
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Optimize Your Business

Last week, I reflected back to you some of the high-priority issues that we've been hearing are filling your days, evenings, and to-do lists. I noted that we'll explore many of those themes at the InformationWeek Spring Conference, "Collaborative Business: The Big Picture" (for more, visit informationweek.com/events/02spring). In that context, I'd like to share an additional InformationWeek resource aimed at helping you understand these strategic issues and determine how to apply them to make your projects and company more successful.

Your new resource is Optimize magazine (optimizemag.com), and the first issue came out last week. The combination of InformationWeek's weekly news, analysis, perspectives, and timeliness with Optimize's monthly high-level strategy discussions grounded in reality will offer a broad and complementary set of insights and ideas to help you cope with this rapidly changing and demanding business-technology world. The core topics Optimize will tackle for you are outlined below with excerpts from the first issue. In coming issues, we'll delve into such topics as law, ethics, globalization, and business management.

"I also want to say that one of the reasons for coming here is to be able to express my support for the president for his action in Afghanistan. The United States of America lost 5,000 people, innocent people, and it is quite correct for the president to ensure that the terrorists, those masterminds as well as those who have executed the action and survived, are to be punished heavily. And it would be disastrous if the president gave in to the call that the army must now withdraw before he has actually flushed out the terrorists. That would be disaster. They will claim that they have defeated the United States of America, and they will continue doing the same thing."

--Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, in a joint appearance with President Bush at the White House, Nov. 12, 2001

  • Collaborative strategies: The "costs of collaboration are here and now; the benefits represent potential. This gap is accentuated by the desire of top managers to institute accountability for performance at business-unit levels by relating pay to unit performance. As a result, companies often don't reap the biggest benefits of collaboration. ... Collaboration isn't constrained by lack of knowledge about strategic benefits, then, but by internal IT limitations, managerial culture, and the nature of managerial performance-measurement systems within the company. All is not lost, however." --"The Collaboration Continuum," by C.K. Prahalad and Venkatram Ramaswamy

  • ROI valuation: "These customized systems are intended to accentuate capabilities that differentiate a company from the competition along the lines of the strategy the executive team has laid out. Building core systems is a great challenge, but it's one that IT people live for. ... By contrast, systems for context are ... not that engaging. Competitive differentiation on context is actually a liability." --"Mind Your Core Business," by Geoffrey Moore

  • Optimal marketing: "A deep understanding of trust reveals that it applies only to personal relationships between human beings, not among companies. As companies cut back on direct relationships with customers to save money, they may well be rolling back the possibility of trust, and with it, the management of loyalty. The important point here is that companies need to employ 'E' technologies to increase customer-touch efficiency and, at the same time, increase personal touch points with their most loyal customers." --"The Ascent Of Loyalty: Why Trust Really Matters," by Jim Taylor and Scott Dinsdale

  • Corporate culture: "Most CXOs, when asked to define their company's culture, answer in terms of open offices or casual dress codes. They haven't really thought about their culture at all. Edgar Schein, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, says the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. But even leaders aware of the power of culture to affect the bottom line often can't define it with any confidence." --"Better Living Through Culture," by Lou Musante

  • Financial management: "Savvy companies invest ahead of the turn. Only journeymen wait for their daily newspaper to tell them that it's OK to invest again. ... If you could buy a portfolio of stocks of companies with the vision and confidence to let IT spending grow faster than revenue during a downturn, history suggests you'd do extremely well." --"Investing For The Long Haul," by Charles Phillips

  • Business leadership: "The answer to the question, 'Why don't we execute on strategy?' is found in the organization itself--in the structures, systems, frameworks, incentives, and operating principles that collectively constitute the organizational model. This model is the context in which thousands of decisions are made every day at every level of a business." --"Transformation Agents," by James O'Toole, Andrew Tipping, and Carl Hurst

    Interested? Apply for a subscription at go.optimizemag.com.

    BOB EVANS
    Editor-in-Chief
    bevans@cmp.com

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