Sanda Communications - Home
Client Resources Contact Sitemap Who We Are What We Do How We Do It News

It’s About Time
By Jerry W. Saveriano, president

Sanda Communications recently helped Axium, a Beaverton-based software company, with a market research and branding project. We redesigned their logo, helped create a company story and developed a positioning strategy. We also came up with a new corporate tag line, “It’s About Time.” Axium develops project- and time-management software for architecture and engineering firms. This kind of software is part of a larger class of Professional Service Automation (PSA) application software.

PSA software keeps service firms on track, productive and profitable, much the way factory automation software helps plant managers stay on top of parts and processes. During my research for Axium I revisited a number of my favorite business books related to time and management. I’ve worked as a consultant since 1981 and have always been acutely aware of the value of time. After all, time and know-how are the lifeblood of the trade.

Peter Drucker, the godfather of modern management thinkers, wrote in the 1961 book The Effective Executive, “Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” The main theme of the book is doing the right things. Managers never have enough time to do all the things their organizations demand from them. Executives must choose to focus on those tasks that are most important for them to address and must allow themselves sufficient time to do a good job on those critical tasks where they make the most significant contribution. It does little good to do the wrong or unimportant things well. I think it’s time for us to apply similar standards to our companies. As executives we must make sure that our companies use time and other resources most efficiently so that we build effective enterprises.

It’s been a long time coming
Thanks in part to Frederic Taylor’s work in time and motion studies during the 1880s—the basis of the Scientific Management movement—manufacturing executives have been dramatically improving the productivity of our factories for more than a hundred years. More recently, TQM, ERP, Just-in-Time manufacturing and Six Sigma initiatives have been improving the quality and performance of the front office as well as the factory floor. Most of the improvements in productivity have been made through inward-facing processes that have benefited customers by improving product quality while keeping costs down. Recent advances in information and Internet technologies have allowed competitive companies to move to the fast lane in customer service. Customers will be, and in some cases are now, benefiting from real-time, all-the-time access to companies with which they do business.

In 1993, Michael Hammer and James Champy wrote in Reengineering Corporations:

Integrated processes also have reduced process administration overheads. Because employees involved in the process assume responsibility for making sure that customers’ requirements are met on time with no defects, they need less supervision. Instead the company encourages these empowered employees to find innovative and creative ways to reduce cycle times and cost continually while producing a defect-free product or service.

Another favorite marketing author is Regis McKenna. In his 1997 book, Real Time—Preparing for the Age of the Never Satisfied Customer, he wrote:

Companies best equipped for the twenty-first century will… use information and telecommunication technology to respond to changing circumstances and, even more important, customer expectations within the smallest possible lapse of time. They will understand that customers’ expectations are being reset for hyperaccelerated, if not immediate, company response, no matter what they happen to be buying.

Real-time is money
It seems that the real-time trend is catching on. The Sept. 16, 2002 InformationWeek theme was “Real-Time Business.” There were many articles about companies who have planned or are planning to take advantage of real-time information. One such article said “Amberwood Homes, a home builder, has cut an average of three weeks from the five months it typically takes to complete a 3,000-square-foot house by using a new real-time application software.”

In the Nov. 11th issue of eWeek Craig Conway, president of PeopleSoft, said his company saved $157 million in the first nine months of this year without laying off a single person! They did this by working over the last two years to put their company online to achieve their real-time enterprise vision.

Conway stated, “The real-time enterprise is created when a company moves its business process online, onto the Internet— and extends them directly out to their customers and their suppliers. The end result is that the business process becomes immediate because there are no intermediaries.”

Your way, right away
Be sure that customers quickly become spoiled. Both HP and IBM have major initiatives to design and support real-time, all-the-time computing systems. Is your company using information and communication technology to better serve your customers and build a more effective enterprise? In a survey conducted by InformationWeek of 467 business-technology professionals, 35 percent claimed their companies had processes in place that let them take full advantage of real-time information. Expectations have been raised, and, as more business is done online, Internet-savvy buyers will insist on high-quality products and services, customized for their needs and delivered either now or soon.

If I’ve teased you into learning more about real-time performance, take a look at a recent issue of CIO Insight online. The lead article, Keeping Pace with the Accelerating Enterprise is a great place to start for an in-depth discussion from all sides of the subject.

It’s good to see that there is so much attention on improving customer services and enterprise performance. We know that it will take time for these changes to take hold. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire. What we’re reading about today will become practice tomorrow.

Perhaps we're not too far away from where I think modern marketing ultimately needs to take us. This was best expressed by the old Burger King motto, "Your way. Right away." At our We Know Jack seminars, we demonstrate how relationship marketing can help you learn what your customers want and how, with real-time processing, you can get it to them when they want it. New technology combined with improved processes and focusing our employees’ energies on customers can help us build an effective enterprise. And I’d say… it’s about time.

  More Information:  
  Company fact sheet  
  Press releases  
  Articles, presentations, columns  
  Events & promotions