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Outperforming companies share new way of working

Executive viewpoint

Nancy Pearson, Vice President of BPM, SOA and WebSphere Marketing, talks about the new Institute for Business Value study results on the work practices of outperforming companies, and about how to use social media, social networking and social commerce to engage customers. You can learn more about these items at Impact 2010, coming in May; register now, read about the speakers and sessions, and create your agenda online. Read her commentary.

Findings from a new study of global business and technical leaders

The way companies approach their work, respond to change, gather information and use technology separates the low performers from the high performers, according to a new study from the IBM Institute for Business Value, called “A New Way of Working: Insights from Global Leaders.”

The key findings of the study were that:

Most business and technical leaders surveyed indicated they focused on stabilizing their businesses, with plans to revisit growth in the near future. However, those businesses that are significantly outperforming in their industries already are positioning themselves for growth today. And, they plan to continue this strategy for the next two years. The outperformers are concentrating on innovation and expansion, including introducing new products and services, and addressing the needs and regulatory requirements arising from entry into new geographies and markets.

Top companies are more dynamic, collaborative and connected

Businesses that significantly outperform in their industry, represented by 16 percent of survey respondents, are more than three times as likely to have adopted smarter working practices. These practices for working smarter help make organizations more:

Most Dynamic - Most Collaborative - Most Connected
Compared to other companies, significant
outperformers are more than three times
as likely to have adopted smarter working
Dynamic capabilities help them to quickly adjust to changes in today’s volatile business environment. Outperformers are more than twice as likely to be able to easily identify individuals in their organization with the needed skills, and quickly build skills to address changing conditions. They also display and deliver information to meet the needs of various audiences.

Outperforming companies are more likely to adopt collaborative practices to share ideas and generate insights. These practices include having processes that are documented and well understood. They are more than twice as focused on directly embedding collaborative capabilities within processes, which improves the speed and quality of decision making. Outperformers are also three times more likely to enable users to rate and comment on the information they are using. Although all respondents recognize the need for collaboration, many have not implemented social software or collaborative spaces.

The largest advantage of outperformers is the ability to bring together disparate data for decision-making. Nearly 30 percent of outperformers report integrating different sources of data to a significant extent, which is 3.5 times more than their peers. Being connected also enables them to use information for real-time decision-making 2.6 times as often as other organizations.

Technologies that help businesses work smarter

Companies that have adopted smarter working practices are much more likely to have widely adopted a range of the underlying technologies, such as for business activity monitoring, analytics, collaborative spaces, and service oriented architecture.

Technologies that help businesses work smarter
Technologies that can help fill capability gaps associated with working smarter (Click on image to enlarge it)

For businesses worldwide, today’s work spans a far broader and constantly changing network of people, processes, and information than in the past. Companies that have yet to adapt to the new way of working encounter problems like these:

In 2008, the IBM CEO Study reported that 98 percent of CEOs say they need to restructure the way their organizations work. The need for increased agility in organizations is more critical than ever.

Research Director Eric Lesser at IBM Institute for Business Value was interviewed about the study. Lesser said the value of the study to businesses is “the path to growth.” He explained, “. . . what I think we’ve identified are those specific smarter working practices that really can enable organizations to prepare themselves for this next wave of growth.” View the video and register to receive the study results.

IBM surveyed approximately 300 top executives from various countries and industries to better understand how organizations are applying smarter working practices. The objectives of the study were to learn the business issues driving organizations to invest in these practices, to what extent these practices are being put into place, and the enablers and barriers to adopting practices for working smarter.

Survey respondents were vice presidents or higher in their organizations, either in business or technical leadership roles. The number of employees per company surveyed ranged from fewer than 1,000 to more than 50,000.

1 Harris Interactive / Tacit Knowledge poll
2 University of Maryland Smith School of Business March 9 2009
3 McKendrick, Joe, “Is anyone ready to process a trillion events per day?” ZDNet, May 11, 2008.

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