Leverage IT For Competitive Advantage

Sanjay Bhutani, Managing Director-India & SAARC, Bausch + Lomb

The formula for business success has never been simpler: drive innovation with information technology. IT has had a major hand in turning things around for every industry. CEO’s today are not looking at IT as merely accounting software, but rather as an enabler that automates whatever operations in the least possible time, in the most cost efficient way and thereby bringing in efficiencies, in short to medium terms.

Over the past few years Industry has witnessed a Digital Disruption or transformation caused by innovative technologies that have impacted the value of existing products and services offered in the industry. The technological revolution has changed the consumer needs and therefore business needs to work with the tide, in order to fulfil these emerging needs, keeping existing customers happy and opening up opportunities for new customers to find what they need from your brand.

There are many aspects to Information Technology in today’s world where the corporations are investing there dollars & time:

a) Business Intelligence (BI): CEO’s are investing in BI to leverage software and services to transform data into actionable intelligence in order to make Strategic and Tactical business decisions. BI tools access and analyze data sets and present analytical findings in reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts and maps to provide users at various levels in the organization with detailed intelligence about the state of the business, thus allowing for an informed decision making that impacts the business positively

b) Digital Marketing too has impacted the marketing spends in a really big way. Using online marketing methods provides for far more accurate ways of reaching out to the right target audience, discovering their needs, and building a persuasive marketing campaign.

c) Data Security: The single most important reason to implement data protection strategies is a probability of losing proprietary information besides losing key financial data and add-on the productivity loss. Data is recognized as an important corporate asset that needs to be safeguarded. Loss of information can lead to loss of confidential information and direct financial losses, such as lost sales, fines, or monetary judgments. It can also cause indirect losses from the effects of a drop in investor confidence or customers fleeing to competitors. Worse yet, stolen or altered data can result in financial impact that is not known to the company until much later.

d) Infrastructure: Another important question is the right infrastructure:whether we choose a cloud based or in house server based infrastructure? While it may sound like a very straight decision however there are many things which any company needs to consider. The first factor is how important uptime is to your business. Cloud hosting allows using any device anywhere in the world to access enterprise level software thus optimizing resource utilization and ensuring that there is practically no downtime, thus negating any adverse impact to the business.

e) Speed to Market: The Speed or the time-to-market is another very important aspect in any IT project. Improving time-to-market can have a dramatic effect on profit and market share.

f) IT Roadmaps should be driven with a clear understanding of why technology is needed, where to invest in short, medium and long term and a proper Cost Benefit Analysis. Both tangible and intangible benefits should be taken into account. While calculating Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) we should include hardware and software acquisition, management and support, communications, end-user expenses and the opportunity cost of downtime, training and other productivity losses.

g) Leveraging technology to create a competitive advantage requires the ability know where to invest and thus becomes a critical decision. As business becomes more computerized/automated, investing in your IT is the best way to develop an advantage. In order to leverage IT, we not only need the best technology and employees with the skills to use it, we also need to transition IT investments from being reactive to proactive.