It is very easy to become complacent in business. When things are going well and customers and sales keep rolling through the door, why worry?
That might have worked in years gone by but things change so radically in business these days you can hardly take your eye off the ball before something happens that affects your business in some way.
Retailers, for example, have traditionally only had other retailers to worry about as competitors, and only those within a reasonable distance from their own premises.
Today, anyone can become a serious competitor online in a flash and they can compete on price because they don’t have the same overheads.
Retailers now fear becoming the showrooms of their online competitors and the change has happened so rapidly it has caught many out.
And it’s not only retailers that are feeling the pinch.
The digital behemoth behind all this change is the Internet and easy, fast access to it. The biggest players responsible for the change are the network operators constantly providing faster service, but whilst they have been making all this change possible they have, in many cases, failed to notice how it will eventually affect them.
Like the hapless shop owners, telcos are seeing their business become commoditized and undercut, and their once value-add services becoming value-minus under increasing and often overwhelming competition.
Fighting back is one solution, but this often ends in price-cutting wars that end in tears. The setup and operating costs of networks is hardly cost-effective, the result of so many years of monopoly followed by ‘regulated’ deregulation where spectrum had to be acquired for mobile network establishment and fiber or copper had to be dug in for fixed line rollout. Neither of which come cheaply.
Adaptation to this changing market seems to follow a basic pattern. Get more customers, at whatever cost. Attempt to sell digital services at a lower cost than the competition. Bundle products together to make things ‘stickier’. Try to give a better customer experience. Oh, and cut costs at the same time!
What is often overlooked, even avoided, is a closer inspection of how the operation runs, how much wastage goes on, how much is being lost through inefficiency on the one hand, and overdoing things on the other.
Fifteen years ago, surveys reveled that CSPs were losing between two and ten percent of gross revenue through ‘leakage’ brought about by inefficient practices, poor business system implementation and management, and fraud.
Annual audits were eventually supplemented by tools, in the form of sophisticated software, to discover and monitor leakage as it occurred and enabling staff to get to the root cause and stem the flow in the shortest possible time.
But that is no longer enough. The same digital forces that have come into play for retailers and network operators that allow things to happen in the blink of an eye have changed focus to one of prevention rather than simple detection and correction.
Business assurance, as this greater requirement is now termed, is extending to include prevention and mitigation of risks that will affect revenue and profitability.
The network and the business systems now need to be monitored and protected continuously because even the smallest of breaches can lead to large losses. That is the danger posed by the new digital business scene.
Security will play an ever-increasing role in any assurance program. Is your business ready for the inevitable onslaught or will you simply pray it won’t happen to you?