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Managing business risk

Wed 1 Dec 2010
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Exchange rate fluctuations with the American dollar create financial uncertainties. The growth of the Chinese and Indian marketplaces creates both competitive pressures and new export opportunities. Multinational parent companies want their subsidiaries to do more with less. Executives know that it is crucial to understand the market trends – both domestically and internationally – to make sound business decisions that manage business risk.Is there a methodology to solving business risk? Potentially, but each executive may approach it from differing points of view, ie: the CFO looks at risk from a financial perspective, the CTO from a technology perspective, CMO from a marketing perspective and so on. Business risk can be minimised through cost- cutting measures, but it really only impacts the expense side of the equation. Executives seeking to gain a competitive edge should first look within their organisation to identify financial pain points and critical issues. Performing a collaborative SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) with the management team will often flush these out. The strengths and weaknesses are internal to the organisation, while the opportunities and threats are external. Some companies may find, after performing a SWOT Analysis, that many opportunities are lost due to lengthy sales cycles. Other companies may find that their product marketing teams are slow in releasing product to market, resulting in lost sales, or that efforts are duplicated.Once the SWOT Analysis is complete, an executive can look outside of his organisation to find the tools and technologies needed to solve their pains. American venture capital firms invest in new technologies that benefit consumers or businesses or even both. They raise funds through a variety of sources and invest in those technologies that they believe provide the greatest benefit to organisations. American venture capital firms are a good source to understand market trends that provide their business with a competitive edge within the marketplace. If a venture capital firm invests in a technology, what benefit could it have to the direction of their organisation? How does one sift through the technology to find the application that would provide the greatest competitive edge?Collaborative technologies must do more than enable individuals to work together. They must provide a solid value proposition that impacts the financial statement of an organisation and eliminates company silos.A value proposition for an organisation can simply be defined as the benefit of the technology and the pain it solves for a business. An organisation’s pains can be segmented into five specific arenas: decrease in revenue, increase in costs, decrease in customer satisfaction, issues within a departmental silo, and lack of visibility among silos.An executive looking for market trends to improve revenue may look for applications that increase sales, improve opportunity costs, and possibly decrease returns of merchandise if in the retail sector. Other executives may look to decrease organisational costs by eliminating duplication of effort, cycle times, or project efforts. Others may not have the reporting or dashboards needed to give visibility to make proper decisions.Executives seeking collaborative tools, for instance, as a competitive edge, should look at those that benefit all parts of the organisation. The technology should improve revenue by enabling an organisation to collaborate with a customer to shorten sales cycles and to create new revenue streams.The application should be used internally to decrease costs potentially by eliminating duplication of effort, improving time spent on tasks, and increasing efficiencies within projects. The technology should provide a dashboard view or reports that enable an executive to better understand processes and to have visibility across departmental silos.Managing business risk is crucial to the success of any organisation in New Zealand. Though there are many methodologies and processes to solving business risk, looking internally is the first step to understanding impediments of growth. From there, executives can look outward to find solutions. 

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