Time to market is an area where technology has played a critical role, enabling organizations to automate and streamline processes. A product or service that used to take a year and thousands of people to bring to market now might take days or even hours and far fewer people.
Technology aside, however, an organization must work well cross-functionally in order to improve time to market. Again, this is where the converged role of business and IT has become pivotal. Business units -- IT included -- can't operate in a vacuum. The business case for a new product or service must be understood by all groups involved. It must start at the top and be driven down through the organization -- all the way to IT. It is only by operating synergistically that organizations are able to truly improve their time to market.
With continuing technological innovation and the capacity to store unfathomable amounts of data (especially in the cloud), many enterprises are sitting on a gold mine of customer and market intelligence. Surprisingly, however, many have not even begun to realize the latent value of these IT artifacts, nor have they discovered how to use this data to their advantage. Here again is where technology -- specifically, sophisticated analytic tools -- can have a decided business impact in 2013. Companies that are able to aggregate that data and mine it for legitimate business purposes will establish a substantial lead over their competitors. This is where the most potential for business value can be realized in the coming year.
Boosting profit margins
Although raising prices can have a positive effect on profit margins, it carries with it the risk of losing loyal customers. As a result, companies often see more benefit by focusing on reducing expenses. One way is by driving operational efficiencies, especially in IT.
This is not a new concept for IT, which has been tasked to "do more with less" for years. What is new is IT's ability to take advantage of recent advances in cloud technology. By leveraging any number of unique cloud deployment models, companies can get the raw processing power and storage capacity they need to support their growing businesses -- without incurring the expense of building out and managing their own data centers and associated infrastructure.
Additionally, advances in IaaS and SaaS give small and midsize businesses a tremendous advantage and present very low barriers to entry. For example, if a payment gateway needed to operate an e-commerce business were available as a service, why wouldn't a company choose that option over developing their own? A decade ago, such a gateway would not have been commercially available and would have taken nine to 12 months to build. Today, a company that buys that service can get a jump on its competitors, focusing on content and the critical products it brings to market rather than on the tools it needs to operate.
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