Written by Wayne Gudbranson, President & CEO
Upon reviewing this year’s Branham300, I was delighted with its evolution and the inclusion of ICT Hardware and Infrastructure companies. It is always impressive to see the breadth of the Canadian IT industry. I was also struck by the level of gross revenues generated by the top 250 companies – over $49 billion. In addition, on a year-to-year comparison, gross revenues for the top 250 companies reveal an overall increase of 6.89%1. Certainly a more positive outlook than many had anticipated for 2003. Beginning in late 2003, and continuing into 2004, the prognosis continues on a positive foot. With the upcoming US election and with the resultant fiscal policies to jumpstart the economy it is likely 2004 will be, on average, favorable (barring any unforeseen international political events).
But what of 2005 and beyond? Can the global IT industry pick up the momentum to expand beyond its single digit growth and continue to grow for years to come? Over the last few years, IT spending has been tentative at best, with tighter budgets and required ROI analyses, etc. Yet, over the last few months, there has been talk of the “obvious” need of companies to replace their hardware and software assets given the last few years’ strict “diet” when it came to IT spending. But what do customers believe?
Unfortunately there is a lack of understanding of what customers want or need. Although on a macroeconomic level some understanding is available, companies have been hesitant to use their budgets to gain customer knowledge on a smaller scale. Yet there is a tremendous amount of money spent on Competitive Intelligence (CI) but unfortunately less and less of the CI budget is allocated to analyzing customers. Undoubtedly if companies wish to grow into 2005 and beyond, there must be a concerted effort to understand their customers and their markets. In this era of service, the ultimate service would be listening to customers and extrapolating their needs into a technological product/service of substantial use to them.
Currently the security and wireless sectors are enjoying strong growth. I am not suggesting that all IT companies become wireless and security experts. But rather to reflect on where this will lead. One must determine which new markets will develop as a result, what customers’ needs will be and how the company will meet those needs. Companies must address these issues to ensure continued growth. This is an exciting time, a time of transformation, and a time to look ahead, beyond the temporary upswing that many may experience in 2004. This is a key time for management to shine, to make decisions, which will not simply match the competition but will outshine them. Success means acknowledging that CI includes competitive, customer and market intelligence equally. And an equal amount of resources must be dedicated to each to ensure a well-rounded corporate strategy.
1. There is an overall decrease of 5.27% however this decrease is largely triggered by Nortel Networks and Celestica. By ignoring the results of these two companies the overall listing shows an increase in gross revenues of 6.89%.