With the UK economy refusing to pull itself out of recession, it is obvious that the dynamic mid-level market must focus on finding the avenues which will ensure strong business success, especially as the UK economy shrank by 0.3% in the last three months of 2012.
Achieving such success is easier said than done, but by aligning IT with clear strategic objectives and then using the necessary IT strategies to realise these goals, businesses should find themselves heading in the direction of growth.
Acora’s poll of 1,300 mid-market businesses (a difficult term to describe, but one regularly recognised as 50-2000 employees) identified three major trends which senior level management think will be crucial for 2013.
Put broadly, they include growth, operational efficiency and aligned strategic outsourcing.
Despite tough economic conditions, over half of respondents believe tactical growth is key to the success of their companies. 28% went further by stating they expect to see growth of above 20%. However, forecasting growth and achieving it are two different things.
The majority of businesses believe it won’t come through mergers or acquisitions, nor will it come through new product development. Not so surprising, the biggest creator of growth will be the utilisation of existing products and sales channels.
Selling strong performing services to new markets, (many see international growth just as important as domestic) through refined sales funnels should prove a powerful strategy. That said, creating a growth-based sales strategy is only feasible if a business’ IT can cope with the increase in demand and its exposure to the predicted growth.
Driving revenue upwards will only occur if a business is operating efficiently. IT wastage is one of the biggest challenges facing mid-market companies, a fact demonstrated by C-level management’s concerns aired in the survey.
Scaling a business cost efficiently, without any impact on existing business services, is a constant balancing act. It isn’t just a case of adding more infrastructure or IT capability; that is a costly approach many mid-level businesses have identified as correctly defunct.
Whatever the function, outsourcing IT can help provide the solution. The flexibility and cost savings that accompany outsourcing are proven to help drive operational efficiency, and as a result, ensure businesses can meet demand when necessary.
Connecting the Dots
All that remains is to link the desire for growth with cost effective supporting IT. Whether focussing on the people, infrastructure or application, finding the balance between cost control, risk reduction and service outcome is the key to connecting the dots for any mid-market business. The era of transactional outsourcing is vanishing; instead, to support their own growth strategies, businesses want flexibility from their provider with IT functionality that has proven value. IT has become the chief concern of businesses in 2013.
The Era of the CIO
The above results show how IT has now become a business issue, not just a technology concern. If the mid-market wishes to see the growth it has predicted, it needs to focus on increasing operational efficiency while at the same time, choose to give IT the board level responsibility it deserves. Only then will 2013 become the year the market wants it to be.