What does it take to lead the market? The question is not academic. It's a matter of life or death: profit or bankruptcy. Every business leader knows that a competitive advantage is key, but the devil is in the details.
To get a better handle on which details matter most, I spoke with Patrick Emmons, CEO of DragonSpears. Surprisingly, Emmons asserted that an unbeatable competitive advantage is neither complex nor expensive, yet IT leaders normally spend less than 5 percent of their time on the best path to get there. The secret begins with 99.99 percent uptime and ends with 4 obsessions.
The Value of 99.99 Percent Uptime
Customers expect your software to work - no matter what, no matter when. Any time your software breaks down or moves too slow, customers are likely to bounce to a competitor.
For software running 24/7, 99.99 percent availability (aka Four 9's) translates into no more than 52 minutes and 30 seconds of downtime plus recovery time over an entire year. In other words, if your customers experience 60 seconds or more of downtime per week, you have a real problem.
Emmons told me, "There are two parts to 99.99 software: the technical aspect and the strategic aspect. When we refer to building 99.99 software, we mean software that is working so well that it allows you to be in a more strategic position. It is about making sure the organization is in a position to take on new opportunities, freeing up time for innovation, and creating greater value for your clients."
There's just not enough time for innovation and value creation if you're working in the business instead of on the business. Putting out fires is the fastest way to arrive at a fire sale of company assets.
Smart Teams Vs. Healthy Teams
Business guru Patrick Lencioni introduced the concept of smart teams vs. a healthy team. A smart team strives for excellence in:
Those are unquestionably important concerns, but IT-led organizations tend to spend 95 percent of their time there. It's easy to measure and it complements their strengths. What suffers is organizational health. Lencioni defines a healthy team as one that excels in:
- Team Identity
- Lack of Politics
According to Lencioni, "Smart organizations don't seem to have any greater chance of getting healthier by virtue of their intelligence. In fact, the reverse may actually be true because leaders who pride themselves on expertise and knowledge often struggle to acknowledge their flaws and learn from their peers. They typically aren't as easily open and transparent with one another, which delays recovery from mistakes and fuels politics and confusion."
The 4 Obsessions
Healthy teams build healthy businesses with the speed and flexibility to stay ahead of competitors. Fostering organizational health is not always easy, but it is within your grasp if you commit to continuous improvement with these four obsessions:
- Build a cohesive leadership team
- Create clarity
- Over-communicate clarity
- Reinforce clarity
Time for a Check-up
It's time for a quick business health check-up. Does your organization strive for clarity and minimize office politics? Is your team spending too much time on technology and related issues while they struggle to collaborate effectively? Too many small companies never reach their full potential due to imbalances like these. DragonSpears wants to change that.
Emmons concluded, "For DragonSpears, 99.99 Software is a commitment to blending smart with healthy in order to be more available to innovate and create exceptional experiences." In other words, when you can count on 99.99 percent availability of your software, you finally have the operational cushion you need to make sure your business stays healthy for the long term. DragonSpears lays down the foundation you need for greater profitability and healthy growth.