Moving at the Speed
When comparing a commercial enterprise to a military
or other government enterprise, one might be too
quick to assess that the commercial environment
is more flexible and forgiving in total than are
its two government counterparts (especially if
you read our section on Military Focus). Not so.
It is true that the military or other government
enterprise is more likely to be tasked with an
inflexible mission within rigid parameters over
which it has little control. On the other hand,
the military or other government enterprise often
has protection from its would-be competitors and
therefore has more time to adapt. Not so for the
The commercial environment presents its own set
of threats and business environmental hazards.
These same threats provide opportunities for the
commercial enterprise if it is performance based,
lean and agile enough to exploit them. Consider
• The convergence of industries and technologies
(such as: residential cable, telephone, and high-speed
Internet) have broken down the barriers to entry
in most technology based industries; allowing
your competition to come at you from every direction.
• An emphasis on 90-day performance horizons,
based on Wall Street expectations, means you’re
never more than a couple of months away from your
next report card or pink slip.
• Commoditization of many industries means
that customer loyalty and contract incumbency
have never meant less to a potential buyer. On
the retail side, the world has turned upside-down.
Previously consumers would select a store first
and then decide what to buy. Now they decide what
they want, decide what they are willing to pay,
and then let retailers “fight” for
the right to sell to them. The Internet has been
the great facilitator in this regard.
• Global competition armed with the best
technology means that any inefficiency in your
enterprise will be exploited immediately. Any
available innovation that you don’t integrate
with your enterprise will make you obsolete.
This list could go on and on, but Bill Gates
said it best several years ago when he asserted
that Microsoft® is “never more than
two years from going out of business.” If
he were saying that today, he might reduce it
by a year.
Clearly, businesses do thrive in today’s
environment, and some have shown the ability
to stay on top. The commercial enterprise
has the freedom to set its corporate mission,
vision and major business objectives, as
well as the strategies to implement them.
Commercial businesses typically position
themselves in the market by trading off
elements of product and service quality
versus their cost and price structure. The
accompanying diagram depicts a wide range
in which the commercial enterprise will
position itself. There is no universal “right
answer” for where that should be as
this will vary by industry type, maturity,
target markets sought, supply & demand
within target markets, etc.
While companies are free to establish their
own brand and business model, their branding
strategy has a tremendous impact on the
formation of an optimal enterprise architecture.
Crucial decisions must be made. For example:
• How should we structure our strategic
• Should we produce oversees or at home?
• Which of our functions should we outsource,
which are core to our brand?
• Should we license content and intellectual
property or should we invent it ourselves?
• How do we optimize our organization if
we are … a low cost seller, a differentiator,
or a niche provider?
• How do we optimize our sales channels
and customer relationship strategies?
• And perhaps the hardest question of all
… Exactly what business are we in, how has
it changed, and what does that mean to our enterprise?