The 21st Century Library is More: Business-like


As you read the following excerpts from various businesses, consultants and sources, think in terms of your library, and how these ideas could apply to your library operation. Mentally replace terms like; “executives” with your decision makers (whether Board, Director or managers), “customers” with patrons, “business” or “company” with library, and “technology” with something akin to Library2.0. I believe you will find that virtually all of the ideas and business principles discussed are applicable to making your library more – more 21st Century.

Here are some of the ways a 21st Century Library can operate more like a bottom-line type business, in addition to incorporating selected Library2.0 technology tools, in order to be more competitive. (Knowing your competition is a whole other story, and if you don’t think you have competition for library services, you really need to think more outside the box.) The excerpts are not intended to be definitive, but just exemplary of the principle listed.

Continuous Assessment -
“The control comes from measuring performance through a set of “Key Performance Indicators,” or KPIs. … Most companies already measure their performance in sales, profitability, and other areas they consider “key.” The two major differences between traditional business measurements and KPIs are their connection to the business strategy and their ability to measure processes and activities rather than just financial results. … your business processes should be designed to work away at those Critical Success Factors [Goals and Objectives from your Strategic Plan], every day of every month of every year. But here is one part of the mystery revealed-many entrepreneurs develop a good strategy and do not adjust their processes to fulfill it. How would they know their processes are thwarting their strategy? They wouldn’t, unless they had a set of Key Performance Indicators that measured the progress of their CSF. … Non-financial measures of time, activity, inventory, etc., are often more difficult to obtain, but they can connect much more strongly with CSF in the business strategy. They often make better KPIs because they actually drive the financial results. KPMG International Cooperative (audit, tax and advisory firm)

Service Oriented –
Customer Service Competitive Advantage: Competitive Business Solutions “If we strive to only be as good as our competition, we are doing a disservice to our customers – and setting ourselves up to lose some of them. What is needed is for us to go above and beyond what our competition is doing. … If your competitor knows their customers’ names, you should know their names and their birthdays. If your competitor knows their names and their birthdays, you should know their names, their birthdays, and their children’s names. If you want to make a preemptive strike against your competition, make a list of the many things that you’d want a good friend to know about you and start learning that about your customers. Move them out of the zone of “customer” into the zone of “trusted friend.” Go above and beyond what you’re expected to do and you’ll find that your customers will drive past the competition to come to you. … Is it a lot of work? Absolutely it is. But the sooner you catch it, the more likely it is that you can turn it around and take your business to the next level. If it’s left too long, your customer base will erode to a state of “convenience shopping” and you’ll have to work doubly hard to get them back.”
MoreBusiness.com, created in 1994, is an award-winning, one-stop resource website for entrepreneurs.

Marketing Strategy –
“The more difficult the economic climate, the greater the imperative to have systems which provide the firm with market focus, the ability to differentiate itself from the competition through innovation, and the processes to manage scarce resources.” United Kingdom Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Supporting innovation services Executive Summary August, 2008.

Innovation –
“The [2006] study found that today CEOs are focusing nearly 30 percent of their innovative efforts on business model innovation. Some admitted giving it as prominent a place on their agendas as more traditional types of innovation. Even CEOs who did not see a reason to focus on business model innovation before now believe the time has come …” IBM Global Services, Business model innovation – the new route to competitive advantage.

“A blend of culture and operations, this most fundamental element is the cornerstone responsible for making all workflow activity purposeful; and for delivering outcomes that are aligned with your objectives. Brainstorming, ideation, co-creating, collaborating, voting, analyzing, developing, testing, validating, monetizing, implementing and measuring benefits – that’s where the battle for innovation is won.” BrainBank Inc.

Efficient –
“Even with an economic upswing on the horizon, the focus on doing more with less won’t fade away. In fact, some say the paradigm of productivity has changed. Smart companies are moving beyond the basics -empowering top talent to implement creative solutions and finding innovative ways to free up cash and lift operating performance.” Deloitte Development LLC

Flexible –
“A business environment characterized by rapid and radical change puts a premium on continuous business model innovation to deliver novel, sustainable and competitively viable customer value propositions. In establishing the agenda for digitization of their enterprises, technology executives must recognize that their companies can create viable e-Business models only by attending to the fundamentals of agility and flexibility.”
Intel E-Business Strategy White Paper, June 2001.

Responsive -
“…imagine my surprise when today I got a text message from AT&T telling me that one of my family members has exceeded $10 in data/mobile web charges this month. It also had a toll free phone number to call for more information. This is a good example of being instantly responsive…sending me an alert that my expenses are higher than I normally would have expected. The amount, $10, is not much given the total amount on my bill, but I greatly appreciate knowing that this expense is higher than normal. And I’m impressed with this service.” March 9, 2010
AT&T Defies Expectations and Responds Instantly

Also, “Social business strategy is the vision and plan around social media, social networking, social support, social innovation, and the infrastructure components of social technologies and social liabilities.” February 2, 2010
Six Conversations for the CIO around Social Business Strategy
Designing and Leading Instantly Responsive Organizations Blog by Dr. Keri E. Pearlson, an expert in the intersection of information systems strategy, organizational design and business strategy.

Nimble -
“In today’s highly competitive and fragmented business environment, successful businesses must be absolutely customer-focused and market-driven. Otherwise, customers will simply choose to take their business elsewhere. Organizations have to be fully committed and pay considerable attention to what customers are asking for and actively demonstrate understanding and a willingness to change to meet customer needs. Business agility is the ability of a business to adapt to a dynamic environment and provide solutions to ever-changing customer needs.”
ensynch, an award-winning provider of IT infrastructure consulting services.

………to be continued………

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