The Intelligent High-Tech Enterprise: Four Ways Forward

Patrick Fitzgerald

In the high-tech industry, it is by now abundantly clear that winning companies are those that are able to create new and compelling experiences for their customers that deliver better outcomes.

Key to success for these companies has been the embrace of business model innovation, process optimization, and workforce productivity – all aided by frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence, Big Data analytics, and blockchain. But how, specifically, do companies seeking to replicate this success follow through?

Focusing on the following four strategic priorities can help.

Adopting a consumption-based business model

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One clear key to success in the high-tech industry is to offer and deliver subscription and usage-based services that allow customers to pay for outcomes rather than products. Take, for example, a hospital that pays for the service of MRI images rather than paying for (and maintaining) an expensive MRI machine with all the associated data storage, software applications, consulting services, and so on.

Such product-as-a-service business models require a change in mindset where tech companies move from providing products to providing outcomes. To get there, high-tech companies are increasingly acquiring, building, and joining platforms and ecosystems that enable them to bring together business partners required to deliver the outcomes that customers desire.

Such models, of course, put the onus on high-tech companies – not their customers – to carry the financial risk when an outcome is not provided. Thus, companies will increasingly collect massive amounts of data from sensors to monitor the health of solutions, avoid downtime, and ensure positive overall customer experiences.

Realizing an intelligent supply network

High-tech companies are transforming traditional, linear supply chain models into intelligent, trusted, and responsive supply and demand networks. The goal is to maintain profitability by orchestrating global supply-chain activities in the face of volatile demand, geopolitical risk, shorter product lifecycles, and aggressive competition.

To get there, high-tech companies are increasingly connecting stakeholders to collaborate more effectively based on a single, agreed-upon plan that covers everything from strategy to execution. This collaboration extends to an ever-growing external partner network that is changing from linear, bilateral models to real-time, secure supply networks where blockchain technology provides trustworthy information about the provenance and location of goods.

This transformation will be complete when internal and external networks are aligned, intelligent technologies are used to automate non-value-adding tasks, and data is used to help planners focus on business-critical decision-making.

Providing digital smart products

With ever-more demanding customers looking for tailor-made products and solutions, product innovations will need to dynamically adapt to market, consumer, usage, and environmental imperatives. This requires the ability to influence and manage the features provided with a product along the entire lifecycle, from the initial design stage through actual productive use to final decommissioning.

To thrive, high-tech companies must have connectivity to Big Data, consumer-and-device-insights platforms, and configurability through embedded software. To get there, they are streamlining their innovation processes through a common intelligent platform and standardized cross-departmental processes.

Such a platform will allow high-tech companies to manage relevant data, trigger needed engineering changes, and process these changes across the manufacturing, supply chain, and service phases. Ultimately, companies will change their processes in portfolio management and design to anticipate future customer usage and needs.

Achieving customer intimacy

Delivering superior customer experiences and outcomes requires a high level of customer intimacy to understand what customers want. High-tech companies, therefore, are pursuing ways to develop “customer-for-life” relationships that support 360-degree customer understanding.

Increasingly, high-tech companies will interact seamlessly with customers on a constant basis across multiple channels from Web to direct sales and through to Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. Such an omnichannel model will lead to detailed insights into end-customer behavior and enable high-tech companies to adjust their service offerings and collaboration with their ecosystem accordingly – in real time.

The future is bright

The high-tech industry has been at the center of a massive shift in the way consumers do almost everything. While the change can be dizzying, the industry is moving forward with new ways to engage customers and deliver better experiences. Going forward, companies that find ways to use technology to build trust and intimacy with their customers will accelerate their growth and earn an enduring role in society’s ongoing transformation.

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Patrick Fitzgerald

About Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald heads up Saltbox Communications, a technology marketing shop serving the enterprise software industry. For more than 18 years, he has worked with SAP as an independent communicator focusing on the business and technology challenges that organizations across a wide range of industries face as they pursue digital transformation.