While no one is under any doubt whether that we are now experiencing a set of economic conditions we have not experienced for a generation (if not more), there is a growing debate on the nature of these conditions and for how long we should plan for "recovery".

This article captures the mood quite well:

The way your business generates results is different, now.

Your customers think differently, now.

Your customers care about different things, now.

Your customers act differently, now.

Your customers may actually be different people, now.

Customers aren’t disposable anymore; more than ever, you have to create sustainable customer relationships.

Everything is different now.

Microsoft's current business outlook is one of an economic reset. We're not sure that we've reached the bottom and even if we have, we don't expect to bounce back to the level of supposed economic prosperity we enjoyed a year or so ago.

So what should we all do in the interim? Clearly doing nothing is not an option, but with all the uncertainty what are the right steps to take?

According to Steve Ballmer, prior experience would suggest that it is the companies who invest in the trends that transcend economic cycles and will extend well into the future. For RCA during the Great Depression it was investing in television. For Microsoft it is investing in Software + Services. Regardless of the economic conditions that shift is going to take place and one way to look at it is that we have no choice but to invest in that. Microsoft's future prosperity will depend on being as successful in delivering Software + Services as we have in delivering Software for the past 30 odd years. The economy may take a year or 10 years to recover, but we won't be in the game if we haven't invested in Software + Services.

Other businesses are faced with similar industry shifts. Whether it is green alternatives to current transportation or a completely new landscape for financial services the innovator's dilemma pervades. That disruptive innovation still lurks. The real decision for most businesses is not by how much they reduce costs, it is whether they have taken their eye off of the disruptive influences in their market.

Unsurprisingly, technology has a key role to play in forming and executing these decisions. The vision for Business Productivity Infrastructure is to bring together the necessary information work tools that enable each individual to inform the decision process, collaborate effectively to ensure absolute customer focus and enable the organization as a whole to remain agile and responsive to a turbulent market.

In this cost focused world the one thing no company can afford is to have inefficient tools shackling the organization to outdated and ineffective behaviors.

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