We know IT can be a game-changer for companies that know how to exploit it, but if in our business we just use computers for email, web browsing and document reading/editing, we may be missing the real opportunities in our own industry.
So let’s look at how IT can change a marketplace in fantastic ways and see if we can’t develop some entrepreneurial market leading activity in your industry.
In my industry (IT Support), the opportunity came with remote monitoring and management of PCs and servers that could scale according to our clients’ IT user numbers and provide faster support remotely than could otherwise be achieved using traditional on-site visits.
The quality of the database and tools identified at the time gave scalability to a business model that was previously difficult to scale.
The natural benefit was that marketplace consolidation became possible and Combo could grow without operating systems limitation.
The tools are about scalability and automation of mundane tasks leading to productivity gains. This is now turning the industry into generally two types of IT Support providers: those that work with old world hourly rates models; and those that work with new world fixed fee models. The latter commoditisation of IT Support is creating barriers to entry and making it difficult to compete on quality of service for the providers who failed to adopt the new world technology.
I recently discovered such an opportunity after an interesting meeting with an architectural firm.
Over recent years, architects have been forced off drawing boards and onto computers to create the images builders use for construction.
Some may still use paper and pencil for conceptual work, but the design concept is then captured and expanded on the computers with products such as AutoCAD or its 3D upgrade REVIT.
There is no longer an early adopter’s advantage in using two-dimensional CAD tools and there is now a move to 3D images that can be rotated and “flown through” in a movie-like manner. This is certainly assisting on the sales side for larger projects as the buyers can visualise the finished product and know what they are buying.
The new opportunity for architects is a little different to that of my industry, but it revolves around the quality of the tools used to design the buildings and the way people can now look at a 3D image and click into the image to find minute detail and parts lists live.
So the opportunity is now around owning the IP of the drawings and getting involved in the facilities management of the building once construction is complete. Keeping the drawings up to date with changes to fit out details as tenancies change will reduce fit out and change over costs and ensure problems with failures in mechanical equipment are solved faster.
Many construction organisations, including the government, are now specifying the tools to be used in the drafting of the construction plans and so architects that have not moved with the technology are being forced to upgrade.
The exciting opportunity for architects who have developed skills in the right software is that they can look forward to building a new business within their business that leverages the IP they have created in the images and offer clients a facilities management service that attracts a recurring annual fee. For architects used to project-based rewards that can be very lumpy in revenue terms, this is a great way to add value to the business that will ultimately affect the sale value of the company when the owners want to retire.
In each case, the control of information and the faster resolution of problems by smart technology that saves money is driving change in industry.
What part of your industry could benefit from this thinking and move from tedious searching for information to quick wins with long-term rewards? And what is the prospect of changing the way you do business and therefore improving the longevity and profitability of your business?
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.