Whether it’s smart phones, smart cars, smart homes or even smart cities, everyone is embracing technology, and the assumption is that it makes our lives better. For example here’s a great article about how far smart homes have come in the last decade or so: Just what is a smart home anyway?

The same thinking should apply to the business you own or work in. So how smart is your business, how do you use these smart attributes to deliver great outcomes, and why is this important?

In answer to the question above, here are my top 3 “smart business” attributes:


Smart use of data

Data → information → analysis → decisions

Obvious really – you need to capture data, know how to analyse it and then actually do something with it. Whilst it sounds simple this isn’t necessarily the case and it doesn’t take long to work out if your business is doing it well (or not). Most  organisations fail at one or all of these stages and there are a number of common reasons why this may be the case:

  • Data is often not captured or not captured in an easy to use way
  • It takes rigour to collect enough data to start showing up trends and people just give up
  • Businesses are still relying on their ‘gut instinct’
  • Businesses only look at the obvious ‘macro’ indicators and don’t take the time to dig in below the surface – this is often where the good oil can be found


Smart systems and a strategy

In a smart business, systems aren’t just seen as operational tools, they are treated as assets which generate revenue, provide a competitive advantage and facilitate a whole range of other growth goals. They are designed to fit the business’s needs perfectly, provide a seamless user experience, and again like an asset, they need to maintained and upgraded on a regular basis. Otherwise they’ll fall into disrepair and could become more of a hindrance than a help.

Given the above, it is important that decision making around systems and processes is done in a strategic context and should be a regular part of the agenda for a board or executive team meetings. I’d go so far as to say that having an IT strategy is equally as important as a general business strategy and it has a far better chance of actually being applied within a business.


Continual improvement

Like any evolutionary process, a smart business understands that things change all the time. To survive the business also needs to change whether it be at a business model level, a service delivery level, or a systems and processes level. This is not to say you should jump on every new trend. One of my team talked about “focused adaption” whereby it is important to recognise what changes will pay off and which ones are a distraction.

Further to this, a smart business has a framework to help it adapt and adopt change, a process whereby it can review and analyse what did and didn’t work, and sees change as an opportunity, not a threat.

Lastly, having ‘permission to fail’ is an important concept, as it’s unlikely that every new idea or innovation will be successful. Sure it’s important to get it right most of the time but if you’re not pushing the boundaries you’re probably playing it safe.


Take the quiz!

So, having discussed the concept of a ‘smart business’, let’s put your business to the test. Click on the following link where we’ll ask you a few questions (should take 2-4 minutes to complete): Take the quiz.

We’ll review and analyse the data, and send you a summary of our findings and a couple of suggestions as to how you might be able to improve your business.

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Matt Larwood

CEO – Axios

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