Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate
In Vizag, during the lengthy debates, one of the things that helped us achieve significant clarity was our understanding of the value chain in the software services business. The way we see it, it is a pyramid. At the bottom are, what we call, talent donators. Above them are system integrators. Thereupon sit what we call IT Consultants. At the very top are the business consulting companies. As you go up the pyramid, the value add increases as does per-person productivity. We clearly saw ourselves competing in the IT Solutions space along side companies like Cambridge Technology Partners, Sapient, Scient and the Viants of the world. These are all large to mid size companies that have come up to challenge the monopoly of the IBM and the Computer Associates and such companies.
Going from one layer to the next is not easy -because, there is a glass ceiling separating each layer. By merely being efficient in doing what you do best, you do not necessarily get to the next higher level. Organizations like ours that pitch as "IT Consultants" need to have certain key differentiation. What differentiates the players in the IT Consulting game from those below it? As we see it, six things. These are Domain, Tools, Methodology, Quality, Innovation and Branding. Lets talk briefly about these before we move out of Vizag.
To be world class, the first requirement is to be able to state your domain. Your domain tells every one what you stand for. If a company wants to be recognized, it is not always important to be large, it is important for the company to be able to say what it stands for.
The next important thing is the use of tools. What distinguishes an ordinary hospital from an excellent one is not just medical talent. It is also the access to sophisticated tools. The underlying assumption is that the power of the doctor to heal fast and heal well depends on the tools at her command.
The third, and probably the most critical, is methodology. Methodology represents organizational knowledge and is the best guarantee for delivering predictable performance. For example, when an organization invites a Big 4 consulting company to study its needs, the consultant uses proprietary methodology to determine customer needs. This makes the need assessment process itself defect free and at the same time ensures that irrespective of which person is deputed on the assignment, the result will have predictable Quality. Unless we build a methodology driven company, it will be difficult for us to make a mark in the IT Solutions space.
The fourth key differentiation is Quality. Quality encompasses all aspects of an organization's maturity and successful ones will be those who have a holistic, or all encompassing view of Quality.
The fifth key differentiation is Innovation. Leading edge companies of the future will have to manage the process of innovation. It cannot be left to chance or happenstance. In the 20th century, innovation was witchcraft. In the century ahead, we feel, it has to be a "managed process".
Last but not the least; we will have to differentiate ourselves by building our Brand. A brand is the perceived and potential value in the mind of the customer. It is an assurance, it builds trust. In the past, people considered branding as something only product companies need to think about. In the future, as we see it, Branding will be an important aspect of building a service-focused business.