Large Organisations And Web Technology

The other day I was looking at IT vacancies on TradeMe and Seek. It’s clear that many larger organisations are behind the curve when it comes to web technology.

If your website is built on ASP.NET you are operating at a major flexibility disadvantage to smaller organisations. A smaller organisation can take advantage of essentially “better” tools without needing to convince 20 middle managers that the new platform is safe and secure.

For example, I am currently building a niche web application on the side. I’m using AngularJS and the latest in HTML5/CSS3 to make it as lightweight and flexible as possible.

If I was a front-end web developer, working for an organisation that requires “3+ years experience in ASP.NET”, I would not have advanced beyond the stage of wireframing.

As it stands, I have a working prototype I can work with in less than a month. Working backwards from this, I’ve redesigned how the whole application should work after seeing it work in my browser window.

The friction that large organisations must deal with in order to get projects that embrace better web technology means that small organisations have an enormous competitive advantage.

If you are a smaller organisation, you should be at the forefront of experimenting with web technology because you can achieve the greatest competitive advantages from light and flexible web technology.

How A Central Organisation Wiki Reduces Risk

Every organisation has institutional knowledge that is probably written down somewhere, in some database, exactly where the team member who needs it to complete her task can’t find it when she needs it.

And the same team member probably finds herself performing tasks repeatedly that would be made much easier if all of the information she needed was in one place.

A central organisation wiki is storage place for all of the relevant information that your entire organisation needs to do its job properly. It can encourage team collaboration, make hiring temps easier, reduce the risk of losing institutional knowledge when a key team member leaves and above all provide a more efficient way to keep track of the organisation’s information.

Having an internal wiki reduces operational risk considerably. If you are using something like Atlassian Confluence you can set permissions so users can only access and contribute to things they need to. You can therefore prevent people stumbling across sensitive Word documents or Excel spreadsheets when trawling through files accessible to all team members.

Having a central repository for all of your organisation’s information makes it far easier to conduct induction training for new team members, keep everyone on the same page and reduce the risk of information silos being formed between team members or different teams.

In this day and age, not taking advantage of tools like a central organisation wiki is risky business. If you’re running a support system and find yourself opening up Word documents when there could simply be a Wiki page with the same information, you are costing your organisation a lot of unnecessary time and money.

The Difference Between Price And Value

Price is what you pay.

Value is what you get.

If you are competing on price alone, you can’t deliver much value.

Your invoices at the end of the month will be eaten up by saving for provisional tax, business overheads, drawings for living expenses and whatever your core business expenses are.

The problem with the obsession over “free stuff” is that many businesspeople have developed an aversion to paying for things that will generate a positive return on investment.

They could spend $50 per month on customer relationship software that would make repeat sales easier and build stronger customer relationships, but they won’t because $50 per month is just some toy.

If you are worried that you will lose customers by increasing your prices, you are either:

  1. Not creating enough value for your customers or
  2. Targeting the wrong customer segments for your product

Think about the career path of a successful lawyer. They graduate and are billed out at $150 / hour. They get admitted to the bar and gain experience in their area of expertise, raising their chargeout to $250 / hour. They have a decade of experience and a lot of court time under their belt – charging $500 / hour plus is not unrealistic.

There is nothing wrong with raising your prices if you are delivering more value to your customers.

Thinking about how economic concepts tie into this idea, a profit-maximising firm should be willing to make as many investments that have a positive return as it can afford.

While that might be a stretch due to borrowing constraints or skill shortages in particular fields, it makes perfect sense.

If a product or service costs you $50 / month it only needs to generate an additional $51 / month in revenue to be justified as a worthwhile investment.

A business tool like customer relationship management software can generate thousands of dollars per year in additional revenue.

The difference between price and value is so immense that it is a no-brainer to invest in CRM tools if you are running a business.

And if you are selling anything, making the difference between price and value clear to potential customers is one of the most important parts of the education process that leads towards a sale.

What Is Your Big Idea?

To stand out from your competitors, you have to push a big idea.

The Apple iPod’s big idea was “1,000 songs in your pocket”.

Google Drives big idea is “all your documents everywhere you go”.

A big idea doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.

A twist on your unique selling point.

An improvement on your key value proposition.

A marketing message that clearly shows why your product or service is better than your competitor’s.

A big idea should flow through everything you do.

Design perfection is a big idea that shines through everything Apple does.

Steve Jobs was a perfectionist – he studied typefaces at college and was obsessed with writing and clear fonts on the Mac.

An obsession with perfection led to a suite of products that were perfect by themselves – independent entities that reflected amazing design and value creation.

A big idea is linked to the sort of value you are creating.

Although it’s tempting to be funny, you don’t need to be.

Every product or service has a big idea around it.

You just need to figure it out before your competition does.