I attended Google’s annual atmosphere road show recently, an event aimed at presenting solutions for business customers. The main points I took away were:
Google’s “mosaic” approach to portfolio development offers tremendous potential. Google has comprehensive offerings covering communications and collaboration solutions (Gmail, Google Plus), contextualized services (Maps, Compute Engine), application development (App Engine), discovery and archiving (Search, Vault), and access tools to information and entertainment (Nexus range, Chromebook/Chromebox).
Google’s approach to innovation sets an industry benchmark. Google is going for 10x innovation, rather than the typical industry approach of pursuing 10% incremental improvements. Compared with its peers, this “moonshot” approach is unorthodox. However, moonshot innovation constitutes a cornerstone of Google’s competitive advantage. It requires Google’s team to think outside established norms. One part of its innovation drive encourages staff to spend 20% of their work time outside their day-to-day tasks. Google is a rare species of company in that it does not see failure if experiments don’t work out. Google cuts the losses, looks at the lessons learned — and employees move on to new projects.
As businesses work to differentiate their products or services, grow the bottom line, and expand globally, they need to think seriously about the important role that their employees play in helping the business achieve successful outcomes. Businesses must invest in processes and technology to recruit and onboard the best people, address performance gaps with key learning activities, provide career development plans, and align pay with performance. Activities like human resource management (HRM) deployment in the cloud and the use of mobile and social technologies for HRM processes catapult HR to the cutting edge of innovation.
I recently analyzed 60 companies in India to understand the CIO reporting structure and the key projects that these organizations are focused on. Some interesting findings from this exercise:
Currently, 40% of Indian CIOs or top IT executives report to CEOs or the senior-most person (president, managing director, etc.) in their organization. Among the other 60%, most report to CFOs (35%), followed by COOs, group CIOs, and chief sales officers.
CIOs who report to CEOs tend to have a 30% higher IT budget than CIOs who report to CFOs, COOs, or group CIOs.
Projects led by CIOs not reporting directly to the CEO focus primarily on reducing IT costs and aligning IT to the business; these projects are typically measured in terms of cost savings.
Projects led by CIOs reporting directly to the CEO are more likely to focus on customer acquisition and retention and measured more in terms of business outcomes for the organization.
The IT services industry is being challenged on two opposite fronts. At one end, IT organizations need efficient, reliable operations; at the other, business stakeholders increasingly demand new, innovative systems of engagement that enable better customer and partner interactions.
My colleagues Andy Bartels and Craig Le Clair recently published thought provoking reports on an emerging class of software — smart process apps — that enable systems of engagement. In his report, Craig explains that “Smart process apps will package enterprise social platforms, mobility, and dynamic case management (DCM) to serve goals of innovation, collaboration, and workforce productivity.” In other words, smart process apps play a critical role in filling gaping process holes between traditional systems of records and systems of engagement.