Staying power in today’s business environment is not just a matter of sheer size and market might, despite what may be perceived as a world dominated by multi-nationals. Staying power is about staying relevant; staying relevant to existing customers and their changing needs and also staying relevant to your market by acknowledging new buyer expectations.
With the recent obsession with customer centricity, you would think this is something that has just been discovered and/or something that will just as quickly become a victim of fading interest.
But there are many examples of companies, not necessarily the biggest and the mightiest, who have managed to stick around for quite a while, thanks to the knack of staying relevant.
In her article “How to Stay Relevant in an Age of Disruption,” Leigh Buchanan features four mid-size companies—O.C. Tanner, R. Torre & Co., Zippo Mfg. Co. and 1-800-FLOWERS—whose concentration on their core assets when innovating and diligence in talking to customers has kept them in the market for several decades – (nine decades in one case!).
In her list of “Ten Ways Companies Remain Relevant”, number 5 notes: “They practice a kind of perpetual beta with customers, working together closely so that both sides learn from each other.”
In software development, “beta” isn’t necessarily a desirable plane on which to languish. When developing good software products it is essential to perceive your product as one in need of continual improvement. And the path for that continual improvement is laid out by customers with a broad range of needs for enhancements, new functional capabilities and drastically new technologies.
The results of the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture (EA) Tools* reflect how vendors are keeping pace with customer requirements.
The report (Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Architecture Tools, Saul Brand, 4 November 2015) notes that the market is changing very quickly, as the demands of customers change quickly, therefore the consultancy had to change its inclusion criteria, to include only larger players, and its assessment criteria.
It says: “New inclusion criteria and changing emphasis in assessment — driven by changing market dynamics — have resulted in significant year-over-year change.”
To embrace the new demands of the marketplace, we at Software AG are uncompromising in our co-learning efforts with customers. Customer excellence organizations, tiger teams, various forms of information exchange—specifically tailored to user group needs—and constant communication between product line management, customers and also prospects ensure that product roadmaps keep products relevant. Short release cycles keep the roadmap flexible to enable agility in meeting tactical requirements. Software AG’s overarching Digital Business Platform strategy governs the strategic direction.
In our work with prospective customers, we see many IT organizations struggling to be —or stay—relevant. IT will always be relevant in the sense that it is needed to support many basic and critical business functions. But in many organizations it is not being relevant to the business’s ultimate market success—a success that hinges on the use of technology for improving the customer experience (CX).
Indeed, according to the March 2015 Forrester Research report, Brief: Why Enterprise Architecture And Customer Experience Teams Need Each Other (access requires subscription), “EA and CX teams place a low priority on working with each other.”
We can only encourage EA leaders to strive to stay relevant by seeking that “perpetual beta” working with your CX experts and transforming the landscape in smaller but targeted, quick-win increments while using the business and IT strategic themes as guardrails. We’ll keep up our side of the bargain and continue to support your digital business transformation efforts.
*Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.