Why top companies lead with operations to create competitive advantage

January 31, 2017

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By Patty Riedl, Rodger Howell, and Marc Waco

To say the recent business environment has been challenging is an understatement of significant proportion. A decade of major macroeconomic disruptions have forced companies to tighten their purse strings – sometimes in ways that would have been inconceivable in more favorable business climates.

To survive, businesses had to learn how to deliver their products and services for substantially less what it used to cost. It was a tough lesson. Yet despite hard-won gains in reducing costs and fighting for share, many companies today are still finding themselves struggling to outpace (or are simply outright trailing) competitors able to deliver the same value to customers with an increasingly complex set of needs and expectations.

So how do leading companies stay on top? They focus on operations as a key to both creating and maintaining competitive advantage.

Operations is about much more than keeping the lights on and the gears turning smoothly. A strategic focus on operations has the ability to drive a company’s destiny like never before.

The operating models of yesterday are no match for the speed at which companies are now required to go to market. Having already eliminated low hanging costs, there may appear to be little left to fund investments in new ideas, technology and capabilities. However, when the enterprise strategy is coherently aligned with the operations strategy, the business can more quickly and effectively achieve greater value in new and existing areas.

PwC recently spoke to more than 1,200 COOs and operations executives to find out how they are using operations to drive competitive advantage. Through these discussions, one thing is clear: the businesses that rose to the top have aligned operations to enable faster decision making, to access and analyze richer data on customer behavior, and to continuously evaluate and improve their capabilities. Together these operational approaches help them remain resilient in the face of significant change.

In the coming weeks we will post a series of articles offering an inside look at three areas of focus that are essential to transforming your business’s operations for your customers:

  1. How to meet ever-changing customer expectations faster and more efficiently
  2. How to determine and invest in your company’s unique set of capabilities
  3. How to consistently win against an increasingly capable set of competitors

Through this series, my hope is that you will learn to evaluate your operations strategy as a means to spark innovation, improve value, and reduce waste. The ultimate goal? Driving profitable, sustainable growth.

Ask yourself, is your company prepared to lead with operations?


This post was previously shared via LinkedIn. ©2016 PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the US member firm or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.  This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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