First, the good news: Nevada’s economy is on the rebound. Now the daunting news: After a gut wrenching recession, the marketplace is more competitive than ever and the difference between success and failure is razor thin.
But research suggests there is hope in the form of a strong information technology (IT) industry.
Rising wages, job creation and record retail sales are all signs of a recovering economy. Nevada is seeing new business from tech giants like Tesla, eBay and Faraday as well as continued growth from Switch and continued investment in the gaming/tourism sector.
All that is exciting, high-visibility stuff, and a great testament to how far the state has come. But perhaps the most critical differentiator for Nevada’s future will be the quality and quantity of its IT investments. Not just bringing new tech the region, but leveraging this growth cycle to strengthen IT in the state’s established enterprises.
That seems unsexy and utilitarian, but if the Harvard Business Review is right, it’s what we need to focus on. Their 2008 article, “Investing in the IT That Makes a Competitive Difference,” points to a link between technology and competition, and claims that IT is “accelerating competition … in the broader U.S. economy … not because more products are becoming digital, but because more processes are.”
In other words, large enterprises now succeed or fail based on their ability to innovate better processes, and propagate those processes using information systems like enterprise resource management (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise content management (ECM).
Those information systems first became practical in the mid-90s, and in the decade that followed, the U.S. saw annual productivity growth for companies double.
Then the nation was hit by a recession, and investment in IT grew stagnant. Locally, companies’ IT budgets were slashed as they struggled to keep the business running, manage current systems and protect the IT estate with cyber security improvements.
However, with a renewed prosperity, it’s time again to see IT as the differentiator and driver of change that it could be. (And must be, if we’re going to remain competitive.)
Many Nevada enterprises are off to a great start. Consider MGM, who, “after extensive review and analysis,” have re-engineered their parking process to include guidance systems and integration with mobile technology. Ditto the City of Henderson, with their electronic signature process that “reduces turnaround time for processing contracts and other documents, thereby improving government efficiencies” according to CIO Laura Fucci.
Make no mistake: “the firm with the best processes will win in most or all markets,” according to Harvard Business Review. Solid enterprise IT is the best way to propagate processes, and thanks to data analytics, can help company executives improve processes, too.
None of this is easy. Enterprise IT is difficult to implement and manage and requires constant vigilance to maintain security and adherence to PCI Security Standards, SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) compliance and other standards. But the organizations that do it well reap outsize rewards.
It’s worth the investment – in time, talent, and resources – and it’s one of the best ways Nevada can sustain economic growth in the future.
Debbie Banko is CEO of Link Technologies.