The following presentation is a condensed version modified for display on Slideshare. It is based on a workshop I run for organisations to help define a digital strategy, by understanding and aligning with current business priorities. I’m considering expanding it out into a book format to include templates and exercises from the workshop.  The content is based on a range of materials I’ve gathered over the years from studies into achieving business value from IT. This version has been recently updated to include statistics from IBM’s 2011 Global CIO Study.

One of the most hotly debated exercises is to take the business benefits diagram and apply it to an industry to identify the differences between market leaders, those struggling to survive and a sample in between. Or alternatively, plot how a company has changed its position over time.

 An easy example is Apple. At the start of the century, the company was not in the greatest shape. There was little focus on customers, products were expensive to buy partly because they were expensive to produce, and the quality had deteriorated from being an early market leader. In the following 12 years, they moved all three axis into dominant positions

  • The opening of the Apple retail stores, staffed by ‘geniuses’ changed the customer relationship for consumers. iTunes provides a treasure trove of data about purchasing decisions. One are that remains weak is the customer relationship in the enterprise space.
  • Operations were completely transformed under Tim Cook, enabling products to be manufactured far more efficiently and at lower costs.  Whilst the Macbook range is still more expensive than the average personal computer, the gap has reduced significantly when comparing like-for-like specifications. And Apple makes much higher profit margins compared competitors, making it harder for others to compete on price.
  • Product quality has returned to a strong position, with most other manufacturers seeking to imitate many of the design concepts introduced in Apple products over the past 6 years since the launch of the iPhone
  • …and the fourth axis – redefining the market. In barely 6 years, Apple’s revenues and profits from mobile devices surpassed their computer sales and turned them into the most valuable company in the world. Nobody expected the oil companies to be toppled just yet.

If you were a competitor to Apple, which axis do you focus on to improve performance?  The fourth is always still there – Apple has yet to dominate the enterprise market outside of a focus on education…

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