Perhaps this story caught your eye:  earlier this month Anthony Zuiker, the creator of “CSI:Crime Scene Investigation,” a U.S. television show, announced that he will be releasing what he’s calling a “digi-novel.”  This novel will combine three different media:  a book, a movie, and a website.  According to Zuiker, “The future of business in terms of entertainment will have to be the convergence of different mediums.”

Not so coincidentally, we are hearing increasingly from our High Tech and Electronics customers that they continue to seek out new business models.  Changing consumer preferences and competitive pressures are driving our customers to move from their traditional ‘build and sell’ model to one where devices are combined with services to deliver a richer, more engaging experience. 

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to forecast what combination of products and services will become popular (and therefore profitable) and which will fail.  I read recently that several years ago the telecommunications industry was gearing up for what they thought would be a multi-billion dollar market in broadcasting to mobile devices.  The actual market size today is far smaller than forecast and likely millions of dollars were wasted by investing in this area.

So the question is, “How does a High Tech and Electronics company survive and even thrive in such an environment?”

Certainly, staying close to its customers is important.  Web 2.0 capabilities provided by companies like Microsoft are gaining popularity because they can help predict rapid changes in consumer tastes, and therefore product success.  Tying this information back to engineering/product development teams is critical too, as is tight integration with suppliers, in case things in the forecast change rapidly and new plans need to be made.

While collaboration among sales, marketing, manufacturing, product design, and supply chain teams has always been a desired end-state, the degree to which things are changing in the High Tech world converts such an objective from a “nice to have” to a “necessary to survive” status. And having the ability to extract the most meaningful KPIs from all these various operational groups and present them to executive management in a dashboard can change the decision making framework from “too little too late” to right on time.

Microsoft sees its customers increasingly using applications from its partners based on SharePoint and Unified Communications to provide just such collaboration.  Even though companies are more dispersed than ever, they also face a business environment in which real time collaboration is an absolute requirement for survival, not to mention winning market share. - Craig Rode | Industry Technology Strategist, High Tech & Electronics - World Wide |