"It's Not the Big that Eat the Small ... It's the Fast that Eat the Slow" was the title of a 2002 book by business consultants Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton. The authors argued that successful companies today are forced to think fast — to anticipate and spot trends, to make fast decisions, and to get to the market ahead of their competition. Speed in today's world is more important than size.
Whether we like it or not, we are all competing in a race to succeed. And in this race, speed is one of the factors that will determine who wins.
While some people settle for a default future in which they drift into an average existence and learn to tolerate mediocrity, others are determined to take part in a race to the top. They may not always win, but at least they never give up trying to better themselves and the world.
The attitude of a winner comes from resisting the temptation to be content with being average, to settle for shoddy, second-rate service. Winners want to make a difference. They want to innovate. They want to be the best they possibly can be.
Ten years on from the publication of Jennings and Haughton's book, nothing has changed. If anything, the pace of life has gone up a notch or two. The slow still get left behind by the pace of change.
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But ten years on, we in the ATM industry have a new way to take a long hard look at the way we do business with a view to changing for the better. It's a way that can help us speed up our delivery and improve the quality of our performance. I'm convinced that this new business tool will start a global race to the top in our industry from 2012 onwards.
It's called ATM benchmarking.
Don't be fooled by this prosaic word "benchmarking," which looks and sounds kind of nerdy, like part of the jargon of Do-It-Yourself geeks. (I'm more of a Destroy-It-Yourself guy around the house than a Do-It-Yourself domestic genius … ) While there is nothing particularly glamorous about benchmarking, it remains a highly effective system for improving the competitive edge of any company.
This year, ATMIA produced what is the first comprehensive global ATM benchmarking report of the 21st century. ATM benchmarking provides an ATM owner — whether bank or independent deployer — with a scorecard of its organizational performance measured against competitors nationally, regionally and globally.
Benchmarking metrics highlight areas that require improvement, as well as current organizational strengths. As Dr. J.P. Moriarty of Lincoln University correctly stated in the 2008 study, A Theory of Benchmarking, "What is remarkable is the degree to which benchmarking has become associated with organizational improvement."
It is well known that Xerox pioneered benchmarking in the 1980s after they started to lose "first mover" advantage and market dominance as high quality rival Japanese products snatched significant market share from under their nose. Sensing the seriousness of the threat they faced, Xerox turned to benchmarking as part of an in-house quality improvement process. And the revenue for Xerox two decades on in 2010 was $22 billion — not bad at all for recessionary times.
David T. Kearnes, Xerox CEO from 1982 to 1990, once described benchmarking as "the continuous process of measuring products, services and practices against the toughest competitors, or those companies recognised as industry leaders."
The ATM is evolving rapidly. It has moved from teller-replacement technology to value-adding functionality, enabling mobile phone credit, loans, coupons, bill payments and even international money transfers. But there is still much to learn in this time of global technological and strategic change. And more importantly, there is still much to improve.
Benchmarking remains one of the most valuable tools ATM deployers have to measure themselves against the best. The purpose remains the same as it was for Xerox back in the 1980s: to improve competitive efficiency as a source of productivity growth, and to turn around sub-optimal aspects by emulating a superior-performing model.
The 2012 Global ATM Benchmarking Study by ATMIA and Value Partners has kick-started a race to the top. I urge ATM owners to join this race as soon as possible because those who benchmark themselves against the best first will gain the most advantage fastest.
Did I say "fast" there? Get in on this act as early as possible. That way you can measure your improved performance year by year. Tomorrow starts today. In fact, in this fast-paced world, tomorrow starts now.
If the fast are eating the slow already, perhaps it won't be long before they are also eating the big.