Innovation: the key to survive and thrive in tough times (Inovação: a chave para sobreviver e prosperar em tempos difíceis)

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Innovation: the key to survive and thrive in tough times
By Laura Mooney, vice president for corporate communications at Metastorm

Published: April 15 2009 17:48 | Last updated: April 15 2009 17:48

Innovation is often cited as a top priority by senior management. Yet it can often fall to the bottom of the priority list – during tough economic times, the focus may change from growth and innovation to down-sizing and efficiency. But innovation and efficiency do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Innovation leads to new ways of thinking which in turn can lead to controlling costs by creating more efficient ways to develop products, fostering creative ways to collaborate with outside resources, or improving business processes in ways that reduce spending while also improving performance and outcomes.

While reducing costs, all of these examples can also lead to growth and set an organisation up for accelerated success when the economy recovers.

Today’s environment provides the perfect opportunity for organisations to look beyond cost cutting and for ways to be more efficient while capitalising on select opportunities to grow the business and position for future success. A company might need to innovate in the following areas:

Their business processes to find more efficient ways to do things, lowering costs, increasing productivity or enhancing customer service.

Their need to engage in a new market with a new or existing product or service.

Their business model to enable them to search for new ways to engage with customers and partners that can enhance relationships, foster collaboration, and optimise the extended value chain with the least cost and disruption to existing infrastructure.

By looking at existing business strategies, organisations can take a fresh look at their goals, objectives, and the underlying people, processes and technology that support them to find ways to create efficiency and improve business performance to address today’s issues while preparing for tomorrow’s opportunities.

To do this, companies need to be able to “see” the whole of the enterprise and its underlying infrastructure to understand how it works.

A tool to model a complete understanding of the company is called Enterprise Architecture. Using EA and Business Process Analysis tools to model the strategies, people, goals, information, and technology of the enterprise presents a picture of the business that can be refined, manipulated, and analysed to create new ways of doing things.

It allows companies to see how well processes are supporting the business strategy and how well the strategy is meeting goals and is a means to refine models and simulate “what if” scenarios to gauge the impact of any change prior to implementation.

Innovating and optimising the use of existing resources now will allow stronger companies quickly to take advantage of new opportunities and prosper when the economy rebounds. Those that concentrate only on survival cost reduction will be forced into a maintenance and rebuilding effort that leaves them behind.

This is also a good time to reassess how use of technology can be improved to create a flexible platform that can accommodate or anticipate change while minimising disruption to daily activity.

As the recovery takes hold, there will be a need to comply with new regulations, develop new opportunities, and respond to new market pressures. Business Process Management technology can be used to develop a flexible platform that provides automation, visibility, audit trail and the ability to respond quickly to changes in business strategy, goals, and objectives.

Most organisations are looking for ways to do more with less, and minimise disruption caused by reduced budgets. While cutting would seem to be a simple task, it must be done with an eye toward future growth and innovation. Companies need the big picture to understand the short-term and long-term impacts of any cuts on IT and the business.

Metastorm is a Business Process Management and Enterprise Architecture software specialist.


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