Today, it is almost inevitable that companies that are lethargic and not particularly clever will die a slow but sure death over the next few years unless they change, and change quickly. Such companies are hampered by years of tradition, outdated work processes and poorly motivated staff. Such lethargy dominates some of our best known companies and ex-companies and we can all name a handful or two I’m sure.
Slow but clever companies tend to survive and prosper albeit long term. These companies do not take big risks, have diverse product ranges, good service reputations and excel at harbouring loyalty within both their customers and workforce. In this sector you see many of the large technology companies – IBM, NCR, Siemens etc. and these are companies you might invest in for your old age.
So, being slow is not a huge problem as long as you understand perfectly well why you are slow! Without question the most risky sector to be in is those companies that are not intelligent but do act very quickly. Now, occasionally we all act in a ‘fast and stupid’ manner but to act in such a way as a company strategy is always terminal. Over the years the companies that have been quick but somewhat misguided, have gone out of business just as quickly as they came into it and if ever we saw the results of such a combination it was in the last few years of the ‘dot com’ boom.
Of course, there’s only one combination of speed and intelligence that can bring sustainable success and that is to be both quick and clever. Quick and clever is a winning combination where success doesn’t depend directly on size, wealth, products or customers, but rather on exploiting market conditions and opportunities as they are born and die in ever-shorter cycles. What is absolutely key to being quick and clever? Business Intelligence, the kind of Business intelligence that I am going to talk about in this blog and I go into some detail about in my book, not the sort of nonsense you see bandied about in vendor brochures and presentations.