ICT – Information and Communications Technologies
Today, information and communications technologies (ICTs) are pervasive. From consumer to industrial markets the impact of ICT is everywhere to be seen. They have a big influence on our daily life, although we may not even know they are there as they operate silently in the background. Most of us are utterly dependent on our mobile phone for communication. Smart phones enable us to do everyday chores from banking to checking on the status of our investment portfolio to booking holidays and taxis to reserving tables at restaurants, all while on the move. We now find sophisticated technology in our homes optimizing our energy consumption and regulating everything from water temperature to air conditioning, in our cars controlling its myriad components while simultaneously monitoring traffic flow and our driving, and even on our bodies keeping an eye on vital statistics.
Most businesses are critically dependent on their IT systems and could not survive for very long without them. For some, they are a source of competitive differentiation, providing them with opportunities for new business models, new products or service offerings, or to redefine the customer experience. More and more organizations are digitizing large swathes of their operations, often using ICT to redefine management practices and informate relationships in the wider ecosystem from customers to suppliers. ICT has dismantled industries from newspapers to gambling as more and more businesses shift completely on-line or look to move towards an omnichannel.
Competing in this dynamic industry is a real challenge. On the one hand we have a constant stream of new hardware and software innovations emerging. On the other hand, new innovative applications of ICT can open up new market opportunities or create entirely new markets. These can as easily emerge from somebody’s bedroom as they can from multi-billion research labs. The velocity of the industry is immense such that one poor decision can put the very existence of a company in jeopardy. Today’s bleeding edge technology can quickly become obsolete. There is the constant threat of new entrants.
In our work with technology companies we have found that many can struggle in this environment. In B2B markets, many naïvely assume they their success is based on superior technology and consequently have not articulated a clear value proposition. Sales teams can be unaware of the issues and concerns of customers, while at the same time an increasing number of vendors seek to move up the “stack” and engage more with business decision makers rather than technical staff. Traditional software vendors struggle to ditch their lucrative license fee models in response to the thread posed by the cloud - the classic innovators dilemma. Conventional notions of strategy become irrelevant in an industry shaped by constant change, innovation and uncertainty. At the same time as being an exciting industry it can also be paralyzed by fear and indecision.