Software applications have become the central nervous system of large companies. Everything those companies do to deliver their goods or services is governed by or assisted through software. A company's success in the marketplace is therefore a function of how refined and capable their software is, and how quickly they can adapt it to changing needs in the market. Companies that "play to win" have found ways to make their software a key asset. Companies that don't are merely "playing not to lose."
Which type are you? Read on to find out.
This distinction was made starkly clear to me last week during a demonstration for a Fortune 500 potential client who operates in a highly competitive market. Their historical competitive strengths were low prices and a broad selection of products, but others have caught up on those dimensions. Their future profitability hinges on providing outstanding customer service. The ability to adapt their software to meet customer needs and expectations is therefore critical to their success.
Their predicament made me think about the two approaches companies take with software and the implications it has on their success. I've summarized both approaches below.
Companies who play not to lose with their software:
Companies who use software to help them play to win:
In her most recent blog post, Forrester Research Vice President Connie Moore shared her peers' thoughts about how relying on large enterprise applications is a sign of playing not to lose. Here's my favorite quote:
"[Enterprise applications] help organizations bring the best practices embedded in apps to companies to make them more efficient. But these apps are also inflexible and hard to change, whereas business models change quickly. These systems were built to absorb information to create systems of record, which is critically important. But we're in a period right now where the change driven by consumer technology is so vast and so rapid that the focus on process transformation must be more acute. I don't think these enterprise app systems can participate in that transformation because they were never built for that."
Connie's blog also highlights how the game changers of social, mobile, and cloud could accelerate the trend away from inflexible enterprise applications. The bar to mobile enabling business processes has never been lower as customers and employees are purchasing smart devices for personal use in ever growing numbers. Companies playing to win are jumping on this development and are already using business process management (BPM) software with social and mobile capabilities to improve the customer experience and increase staff productivity. This is happening across Appian's customer base and I have a front row seat to watch. It's all very exciting. Here are some examples:
If you realize you've actually been "playing not to lose" with your software, it's time to acquaint yourself with just how much can be done using a state-of-the-art business process management suite and tackle places where you've allowed your software (and its limitations) to dictate how you serve your customers instead of driving software flexibility to continually delight your customers and set the competitive bar ever higher.
Vice President of Solutions
Appian is a software company that automates business processes. The Appian AI Process Platform includes everything you need to design, automate, and optimize even the most complex processes, from start to finish. The world's most innovative organizations trust Appian to improve their workflows, unify data, and optimize operations—resulting in better growth and superior customer experiences.