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Lessons from the Value Factor: Value

The Value Factor Book by Mark HurdThe third segment of The Value Factor, a book co-written by Mark Hurd and Lars Nyberg, focuses on the value delivered to customers and the long-term growth of the company through the application of vision and control. This section also details how faster insight into the financial details of a company helps CEOs react and respond to both their own business as well as the market as a whole. To bring it all together, here are a few top takeaways from Vision, Control, and Value.

1. Access to information drives agility

Establishing a strategic plan, the bedrock vision of where the company should be, is always valuable. Attaching hard numbers to that corporate vision can actually limit our ability to respond to change quickly.

The importance of agility is a persistent theme in The Value Factor, and for good reason. When applied to the financial leadership of a company, this means using timely information to react more quickly than leaders can when their most recent source of data is the quarterly statement. The need for the kind of proactive decision-making discussed in the Vision chapter is essential for CEOs and allows them to drive value and save money–sometimes by deviating from their plans. Hurd and Nyberg make the point that vision for the company is valuable, but long-term plans can constrain goals, limiting agility and growth. Reacting and responding to new information both within the company and within the industry and obtaining deeper, real-time insight, should open up more opportunities.

2. Reacting faster benefits everyone

Real-time flexible reactive and proactive decision-making means using information tactically to successfully execute strategy.

Information accessed by the right person at the right time allows companies to seize fresh opportunities, leverage unique insights from employees across the company, reduce costs in supplier relationships and logistics, respond to incidents as they arise, and keep a single version of the truth present for customers, partners, employees, and shareholders. The Vision segment focused on breaking down information silos and allowing employees to ask profitable questions, which decentralizes decision-making to create a culture of empowerment. The Control segment showed that these insights could be used to improve customer relationships through information-sharing, finding new opportunities that benefit both the customer and the business because “doing business better doesn’t cost money. It earns money.” Using the latest information also brought cost savings in the supplier relationship, where actionable information can inform procurement decisions to make a huge impact. Finally, the Value segment noted that CEOs have to access data more frequently than just through quarterly financial statements. Having the latest information means reacting to problems as they occur and proactively heading off incidents before they snowball.

3. Continue doing what works

We need to be faster and leaner, but we don’t need to change our business basics.

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Having more information should help businesses achieve their core vision and goals, but those goals are still built on traditional ideas: providing high quality goods and services, delivering value to customers, building long-term relationships, valuing employees, and creating an environment of open communication. More information enables and facilitates those goals without changing their fundamental nature.

Information also helps companies react to the future. Originally published in 2004, The Value Factor closes by pondering how information security will affect Americans, citing air travel safety and the recently introduced Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act known colloquially as HIPAA. More than a decade later, businesses are still trying to manage information security, with the cost and consequences even more dire. In his 2017 Oracle OpenWorld keynote address, Mark Hurd noted how cybersecurity issues are still vitally important and more challenging than ever, saying: “I have to find innovative ways to change this, because the risk associated with this is just huge.”

As the future of technology and the technology industry continues to rapidly change, CEOs will have to maintain the delicate balance between innovation, security, and cost. Regardless of what the future brings, the basics of vision, control, and value will continue to play an important role in how companies do business.