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March 17, 2017

Why the right off-pitch team is crucial for Grand-Slam success

Only with a robust infrastructure in place can a business operate, innovate and remain in the game.

By James Nunns

This weekend is set to be a triumph for the England rugby team. Heading into the final weekend of the Six Nations with the trophy already in the bag – with the added potential of a Grand Slam victory should they defeat Ireland.

Keith Tilley, Executive Vice President & Vice-Chair,
Sungard Availability Services.

The win over Scotland also gave the team the added accolade of equalling New Zealand’s world record of consecutive first class wins.

While fantastic accomplishments, it’s important to highlight that the squad on the field weren’t the only ones who delivered. In fact, many would argue that it is the wider team who are vital to the success of the squad – with Eddie Jones credited with driving this change from the top over the past 18 months; honing the skillset of the individuals to bring them together as a team.

While the on-pitch talent may be the ones who bring in the viewers and sell tickets, behind the scenes is a vast and complex machine, in which coaching staff, physios and nutritionists – to name but a few – are all vital cogs. And when everything runs smoothly in the background, only then can the ‘public faces’ of the sport deliver a successful performance.

The same philosophy applies to businesses; how can an organisation innovate if it doesn’t have a strong ‘behind-the-scenes’ team ensuring an available, robust and sophisticated IT infrastructure is in place to support the day to day workings? While not a try-scoring role, enabling a business to deliver across the finance team, sales department & others, while having the agility to adapt to market changes, is key to success.

Businesses are now in the spotlight more than ever before, and in a similar sense held up to just as much scrutiny as national sportsmen. Just as a poor performance on the pitch can lead to national outrage (take the 2015 World Cup performance as an example), operational faults can lead to a loss in both reputation and profit for organisations. Businesses need to be assured that they have the right “off-pitch” team that helps facilitate the organisations’ availability, resiliency and agility – ultimately allowing them to focus on satisfying the audience that matters to them: their customers.

Success in sport relies on the ability to innovate and adapt to the situation in front of you. Tactics that work one week won’t necessarily work for the next match where you face a different challenge – take the Italy match for example. For organisations, freeing up this essential time to innovate, scale up and redefine strategy to improve business outcomes and enhance customer experience ultimately gives a competitive edge.

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Getting this competitive edge is more important than ever in business today. Technology is causing major disruptions in all sectors, with new, agile businesses popping up every day, ready and raring to steal the customers who are looking for a better, more modern service. Businesses must be ready to adapt and change their tactics if the opposition is playing a different kind of game to the one they’re used to. The financial services sector is a key example of this. Small fintech businesses are shaking up the industry, forcing the big banks and institutions to change their game plans and modernise.

Despite this, research has shown that over a third of organisations (32%) feel they are falling behind the competition. Moreover, nearly four in ten (37%) also felt that they were too focused on maintaining legacy systems rather than innovating by deploying new digital technologies. With the right team and tools working in the background, any business can explore new opportunities and claim its place as a Grand Slam winner in the industry.

One final, but vital point circles back to culture and appreciation of everyone on the team – whether you are the famous face or not. “Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship” –  these are the values rugby prides itself on, and only a team that truly embodies them will achieve success. Equally, it’s people, processes, and technology that make a business run – if any of these factors are lacking everyone suffers. True appreciation of every role, from team captain to physio, sales manager to office manager, is vital.

The individuals who work behind the scenes of an organisation may never experience that trophy lifting moment –  but they are the glue holding everything together. Only with a robust infrastructure in place can a business operate, innovate and remain in the game.

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