Growth. The perennial brass ring of business from which most other benefits — and challenges — naturally flow. While the methods to achieve it are myriad, from acquisitions to strengthening customer relationships, it’s on everyone’s strategic plan.
In the tech industry, many would argue that growth is both easier and harder to achieve. But even in mature, saturated markets, like PCs, growth is possible. In fact, a major milestone was recently attained: for the first time ever, the five most valuable companies in the world were all technology companies—supplanting giants in the energy, finance, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors.
While technology continues to reinvent how we live and work, keeping up with the pace of change is difficult and if you want to do more than just keep up, if you want to thrive, expand, advance, you need to do more. You need to offer customers something better, unique, amazing.
The more challenging the pursuit of a growth strategy is, the more it demands innovation. And innovation is fueled by diversity. These work hand in hand to position companies to grow and flourish. In order to first identify and evaluate growth opportunities, utilize tools such as heat maps, consumer research, demographics and market trends. Then, apply rigorous, unflinching self-assessment. This means establishing a cadence and governance for internal evaluation against external metrics and systems for soliciting and applying ecosystem feedback and competitive analysis. At HP, as a channel-led company, our partners are invaluable in providing us with insights and feedback that we feed back into our design process, GTM programs and more. Finally, a deliberate, decisive approach to evaluating opportunities is absolutely critical; pursuing every possible growth window is both foolish and wasteful.
Now, once an opportunity is identified, let’s take a closer look at how to apply innovation and diversity to achieve stated objectives.
Re-think your model and your brand. In tech, a pressing need is to transition from traditional product or on-prem companies to ‘as-a-service’ providers. These flexible consumption models will help reinvent how we deliver and service IT. For instance, companies are looking to providers to manage their printer fleets to create efficiencies, boost productivity, increase security, and improve environmental performance. And, as employees and their accompanying devices proliferate, IT resources are stretched to manage them. Customers need a way to enhance device acquisition and management, improve device security and usage — while giving IT a more strategic role.
Another area of opportunity is the Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner says that as many as 8.4 billion devices will be in use this year, forecasted to reach 20.4 billion in the next three years. To capitalize on this trend, companies need to think broader than devices — the connectedness and intelligence of IoT transforms products into services. Security becomes even more challenging. Security teams need to work with application, solution and enterprise architects to consider security early in the design of applications or IoT solutions. Multi-layered security and use of user and entity behavior analytics will become a requirement for virtually every enterprise.
Whether its DaaS or SaaS, customers need to believe that a company has the expertise to enable a smooth, efficient transition. Smart marketing and branding play a big role in communicating the capabilities and credibility that customers are looking for. Realign brand and messaging to reflect as-a-service provider positioning.
Invite, empower, celebrate diversity. It’s no secret that the key to innovation is hiring, retaining, and promoting the best talent. A McKinsey study finds that, “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” Another report showed that diverse companies had 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period than non-diverse companies did. If growth is an objective for your company, you must look around you. If everyone looks like you, it’s not a great indicator that amazing innovation is happening. Different groups of employees bring fresh ideas to the table. And, as the talent wars heat up, the best prospects seek companies that offer diverse, inclusive, bias-minimized work environments. In fact, there has been a surge of anonymous hiring in many international companies as one of the best recruiting practices for diversity in recent years. At HP, we have made reinventing the standard for diversity a core tenant of our strategy because we know that this approach drives more creativity, ingenuity, curiosity, innovation—and ultimately, growth.