A CTO's perspective
“Jack Welch said, “An organisation’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage”. What does it mean?”
The current business environment changes every 18 months as a result of technological advancements. Technology advancements create new ways to deliver services (e.g. Netflix streaming films rather than dvd’s), creates new types of products (VoIP phones rather than analogue lines), and new ways to deliver value to customers (convenient e-commerce rather than in store shopping).
So a key capability each organisation should have is the ability to adapt every 18 months using new technologies to keep them competitive. However, not all aspects of a business can be changed.
For example, changing the culture of a business is tricky, time consuming (longer than 18 months) and seldom successful (IBM is an example of a successful culture change).
One area an organisation can be adaptable is in effectively and efficiently collecting, analyzing and skillfully using relevant knowledge from within the organisation. A simple example we see everywhere is asking customers for feedback on the product/service/process as they have experienced it. The feedback can be used to enhance the organisation and increase the customers satisfaction dealing with the organisation. This translates into a loyal, happy customer who will think twice about leaving for a competitor. This is an example of what Jack Welch meant when he said “An organisation’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage”.
Organisations often use external experts to manage this aspect or to develop the capabilities within the organisation as it requires expert skills.