As companies in the software sector weave their way through the ongoing consolidation of technologies and deliver increased efficiency, cost reduction, business process enabling solutions and improved customer experience, their scramble for a larger piece of the revenue pie, will, in my view, be influenced by two things - Their clarity of thinking (understanding of this sector) and their simplicity of communication.
I believe that both clarity of thinking and simplicity of communication are a major problem software for vendors and service providers alike in the jargonistic, acronymous software technology sector. Therein lies a golden opportunity for those companies that are able to step back a few paces and take a good, hard look at the sector and, most importantly, their own business, from a critical stance.
Clarity of Thinking for Winning Leadership and Business Achievement
Within even the smallest of businesses, once you scratch the surface, there is enormous complexity and detail. The challenge for any business leader is to be able to step above the daily frustrations, obstacles, demands, deadlines and internal politics, to clarify in their own mind their plan for business success. This means, not only having a true understanding of their own business, including strengths and weaknesses, but also, an understanding of the environment in which they operate. This latter point encompasses customer needs and frustrations and the market drivers and influences within the software sector as a whole.
Although this plan for success requires great detail and complexity, it must also have the ability to be summarised into a succinct and clear plan that is easily understood and can be communicated within 60 seconds. Such clarity is the compass for all your future initiatives and focus and must gather your business TEAM together as one, all working in the same direction, towards the same objectives.
When identifying the really important issues in your business, clarity of thinking is imperative; pay attention to the actions that will make the greatest difference, rather than allowing yourself to become submerged in the seemingly urgent. This is a skill that you and all your management team must develop and continually hone.
Simplicity of Communication for Understanding and Endorsement
First, let me start with a clarification; when I mention "simplicity" I do not mean simplistic - the over-simplification of complex issues. What I mean is, “clarity” and the ability to cut strraight to the essence of the message and be able to communicate that message to an audience - be that one or thousands - in a way THEY understand.
In order to gain support and endorsement for your ideas and services, you first need to gain understanding of your target audience - and that requires clear communication. This may be from fellow executive team members, employees or potential customers. Clear communication, in terms they understand and can appreciate, is pivotal to the success of your organisation.
Working in an industry that is dominated by ever more progressive technology, I have seen and heard enough confusing, dull and overly complex presentations to last me three life-times. The same can be said when I look at company websites; 98% of presentations and websites in this sector range from poor to barely adequate.
Business professionals, who have spent their working life as communicators, often fail to realise that most of what they are presenting is either not understood or is forgotten within hours because it was just not memorable.
Deliver the salient facts to your potential clients.
Don’t drown them in every statistic you have at your fingertips.
Decide which 3 to 5 things you want your audience to remember about your presentation and make sure that those points are articulated in a way that is easy to understand - and memorable.
If you have a lot more facts for your audience, give them a fact sheet that they can refer to. But remember, you need to gain their attention and interest - FIRST - if you don’t want that fact sheet filed in the nearest round receptacle.
Much of the latter problem could be alleviated by attention to my first point about paying attention to your own clarity of thinking.
The second big improvement would be made by gaining some perspective from the position of your intended audience. We all know the big "no-no" of using acronyms and jargon and have often repeated this as a warning to others but, let's be hinest, how often does it slip into our discussions, presentations and articles?
Below, is a genuine example of the type of jargonistic approach organisations need to avoid like the veritable plague. (I have changed the company name)
"Confused Software Solutions provides software and services for retail and distribution businesses that help them deliver measurable multi-channel revenue growth by helping businesses implement a step-by-step roadmap to becoming a fully integrated, efficient, omni-channel business through implementation of our integrated back office, retail and eCommerce solutions."
Do you know what they do? I’m certainly none the wiser..
In closing, I would just like to make one simple observation.
Whenever I meet and speak with senior executives from this sector I see far too often people who are over-worked and swamped.
They literally race from one meeting or call to the next, answering emails, questions and solving problems, with very little thinking time in between.
Their work ethic is commendable. However, as a business leader, their role is to think, have vision and be a leader to those around them.
For these, oh so busy individuals, it's essential there are times when the mobile is switched off, emails are ignored, the office door is closed and THINKING TIME is permitted.
This is where the magic germinates...
What are the really big issues for your company?
Where are the biggest wins going to come from? - And what are your best next actions to make sure they happen?
Focusing on the really important issues in your business and being able to articulate them clearly and concisely for yourself, your employees & co-workers, as well as for your potential clients is the path to reaping rich dividends in the future.