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  • 7 December 2010 09:52

Look to venture capital firms for trends that help to manage business risk

Understand internal issues then look externally for solutions

By Cameron Ackbury, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Mindjet

Managing business risk in Australia is as critical as ever to the success of any organisation. With exchange rate fluctuations creating financial uncertainties; the growth of Chinese and Indian marketplaces creating both competitive pressures and new export opportunities; multinational parent companies requiring their subsidiaries to do more with less; executives see it is crucial to understand the market trends, both domestically and internationally.

They need this knowledge to make the sound decisions that manage business risk. But is there a methodology to resolving business risk?

Potentially, yet each executive may approach it from differing points of view: the CFO looks at risk from a financial perspective, the CTO from a technology perspective, and CMO from a marketing perspective.

Business risk can be minimised through cost-cutting measures but this really impacts only on the expense side of the equation. The best means to managing business risk is by understanding internal issues then looking externally for solutions.

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 out issues and pain points.

The strengths and weaknesses are internal to the organisation while opportunities and threats are external. Some companies may find, after performing a SWOT Analysis, that many opportunities are lost due to lengthy sales cycles. Others may find their product marketing teams are slow in releasing product to market resulting in lost sales. Some may find their efforts are duplicated in the organisation.

Once the SWOT analysis is complete, an executive can look outside his organisation to find the tools and technologies needed to solve their pains. 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 they believe provide the greatest benefit to organisations. Over the past decade, cloud-based applications, data storage and virtualisation seem to have been the rage with these firms. New buzzwords appear seem to appear daily, further mystifying market trends.

US venture capital firms are a good source to understand market trends that give their business a competitive edge. Often this information is overwhelming or potentially underwhelming, depending on perspective.

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?

According to Business Insider, collaboration and project management received the greatest share of VC investment in Q3 2010, followed by advertising, sales and marketing, business intelligence and social media. If an executive focused solely on collaboration and project management as a market trend to provide a competitive edge (as it is the greatest share of VC investment), then sifting through the myriads of technologies that brand themselves as collaborative may be difficult.

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 can be defined simply as the benefit of the technology and the pain it resolves for a business. Organisational 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.

Although there are many methodologies and processes to resolving business risk, looking internally is the first step to understanding impediments of growth. From there, executives can look outwards to find solutions. Venture capital firms often have the pulse for new technologies, such as collaborative solutions, but to eliminate the noise and buzzwords, the solutions should have a value proposition that impacts all areas of the organisation.

For more information

Cameron Ackbury Mindjet Corporation Email: Phone: +1.415.229 4426 or +1.650 223 4557 Web:

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