Sure, you’ve heard it before that BPM is about the business. But indulge me for a bit.
Buying Product X
Let‘s say the CIO of a manufacturing company Abuys product Xbecause it can help optimize inventory and reduce costs.
He gets the software implemented and X nicely fixes not just that bloated inventory but also that big headache he’s had for months.
What‘s more, Marketing could reduce product price a little bit and so the team there is happy, and so is the customer, and, despite the price drop, a slight improvement in the margin makes Finance happy too. Meanwhile, Purchase and Production are happy, and well, there are smiles all around and all that. You get the picture.
Now all this, naturally, will give A an edge over competition.
Simon says “buy the same product”
What if B, a competitor of A,decides to also buy Product Xfor much the same reasons? In effect, we now have two competing firms, both depending on product X to address inventory issues. Will happy smiles appear on faces in firm B? Will folks at A continue smiling and nodding at each other?
How will it affect their relative advantages? Their differentiators?
Here are two different ways of looking at it –
- Product Xminimizes the relative competitive advantage between Aand B, bringing them both on the same level playing field. They will each have to think of other ways to get one up on the other.
- Product X has the potential to sharpen their competitive advantages by highlighting each of their more unique differentiating areas.
Which one would be your pick?
If you pick (1), you are saying there can be no competitive advantage from IT as IT eliminates differences between how organizations function. This is along the lines of Nicholas Carr’s argument that as IT becomes more commoditized, the value from IT would also diminish.
On the other hand, If you pick (2), you are saying IT can be used as a weapon to find competitive advantages that complement your core competencies.
Make your own path
Product Xin our story, as you might have already guessed, would typically be a packaged application promising ‘industry best practices – acquired from consolidating experience from thousands of implementations’. So, consider this – if both Aand B apply the same best practices, would they truly get competitive? Or would those common best practices merely help them stay on equal footing?
The situation our firms A and B find themselves in is not very unusual. This is precisely where the power of BPM could help them in discovering their own unique paths to a deeper level of differentiation.
BPM can give you the wherewithal to unlocking competitive advantage from areas in your business where packaged applications are, by and large, ill-equipped to address. In making a substantial difference to your bottom-line, and/or your top-line.
‘Enable, Empower, Improve, Unlock’. These are words that should be top-of-mind when we are designing BPM to deliver its promise.