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让你的公司像谷歌一样增长

谷歌和苹果能主导智能手机市场,一定程度上是由于他们开发了可供第三方开发者销售自己软件的平台。你的企业也可以采用这种增长模式。

苹果应用程序商店是公司利用杠杆增长原理的范例。

    随着经济形势开始好转,公司高管们再次将目光投向能为公司带来增长的机遇与挑战。投资者也在寻找能获得持续高利润增长的公司——光靠削减成本可是远远不够。

    我敢肯定你们中的大多数人在考虑增长时,都会注意两个方面:内生性增长和收购型增长。公司获得新能力的途径无非两条,要么内部发展,要么从别处收购。

    这样的想法其实忽略了第三条途径:杠杆型增长。

    这里的杠杆并不是指金融杠杆——在资产负债表中加入越来越多的债务,这种做法导致一些公司在金融危机时深陷泥潭。我们所讨论的另一种完全不同的杠杆——有能力接触并利用其它个人与机构,从而帮助你的顾客。

    无论是萧条期还是繁荣期,这种杠杆都能起作用。如果使用得当,它能带来回报,而且能避免收益递减的困境。在传统增长模式下,公司通常会遇到这类困境。其特征是公司在经历了一段时间的爆发式增长后,业绩会迅速趋于平稳。

    执行杠杆型增长战略是个很大的挑战,尤其是目前仅有少数几家公司,可作为范例供大家参考。

    以苹果(Apple)和谷歌(Google)为例,他们在智能手机界迅速确立了领导地位,很大程度上是依靠其开发的平台,在此平台之上,第三方开发者能制作出自己的应用程序。另一个例子是中国的利丰贸易服务公司(Li & Fung),该公司的服装生产商全球网络目前已汇集一万多家商业合作伙伴,并因此获得飞速增长。

    在这篇专栏以及我们接下来的文章里,我们将探索杠杆型增长的潜力,以及杠杆型增长如何才能为股东带来重大价值。

    以下是与杠杆型增长有关的四个关键要素:

1. 杠杆型增长能提升一家公司的财务业绩

    无论我们谈论的是自然型增长还是收购型增长,都会遇到传统增长模式带来的问题,这就是前期需要大量投入,随后又需要很长时间等待投资产生效果。传统投资方法的另一个问题是无法确定投资是否有回报,而且也无法确定回报的大小。随着全球竞争愈加激烈,这种投资方法没有太大的吸引力。

    杠杆型增长能显著改变这种投资模式:初期投资会显著降低,而且其后的增长方式能根据公司收到的反馈进行调整。

2. 商业生态系统的重要性

    所谓商业生态系统就是,两个以上的参与者之间不断互动,最后达到资源互通的目的。这种生态系统包罗万象,从简单的供应链到数千家合作伙伴参与的巨型全球网络,都被囊括其中。它可以是一个竞争平台,许多人在此展开价格竞争;也可以是一个中介平台,中间商们利用它聚集起合作伙伴,共同协作完成某项任务。

    公司高管们都明白,商业生态系统正变得越来越重要。不过,针对这种生态系统经常被论及的松散性,他们私下里表达了不少困惑和担忧。

    与不同类型的生态系统打交道需要很不一样的管理风格。不过高管们通常需要自行挑选管理风格,然后慢慢去发现哪种风格更有效。

    此外,并非所有的生态系统都是平等的,现在很多公司都陷入了严重影响自身发展的合作关系。

3. 选择某个商业生态系统中最佳的运作方式

    高管们经常担心加入一个商业生态系统,会导致其失去对公司的掌控。不过这种情况完全可以避免。生态系统需要积极地参与和管理,这样才能为参与者创造最大的价值。

4. 杠杆型增长能从新技术中获益

    现在成功的杠杆型增长例子非常少,尤其是大公司。因为如果所有参与伙伴之间缺乏密切沟通,这种增长策略就很难实施。

    不过,现在有了云计算、社交软件、传感技术和移动技术,它们对生态系统产生了重大影响。例如,现在可以在全球化的商业生态系统里,监控参与者们的复杂设备,不管这些参与者在哪里,都能为其提供实时更新。就在几年前,这样的协作还根本无法大规模实现。

    ----

    以上四点让我们不由想到苹果和谷歌,这两家公司熟练利用了那些心甘情愿、满怀渴望的开发者,由于技术进步,后者现在能通过虚拟市场销售自己的“产品”。在之后的专栏文章里,我们将详细阐述上文中提到的所有与杠杆型增长有关的机会和问题。

    本文作者约翰•海格三世是Deloitte Center for the Edge的联席董事长。约翰•希利•布朗是该公司的独立联席董事长。Deloitte Center for the Edge位于硅谷,其研究旨在促进企业增长。

    译者:项航

    As the economic outlook begins to brighten, executives are turning once again to the opportunities and challenges of growth. Investors are looking for companies that can deliver high levels of sustained profitable growth -- but cutting costs can only do so much.

    We will wager that when most of you think of growth, you tend to focus on two options: organic growth or acquisition-driven growth. A company can either build new capabilities internally or buy it.

    This mindset misses a third path: leveraged growth.

    We don't mean leverage in terms of financial leverage -- adding more and more debt to the balance sheet -- that is what got quite a few companies into trouble during the downturn. We are talking about a different kind of leverage -- the ability to access and take advantage of other individuals and institutions in ways that help your customers.

    This is a leverage that can work in bad times as well as good times. If done in the right way, it can generate returns and avoid the dilemma of diminishing returns that is common with traditional growth initiatives, which are characterized by a burst of growth followed by a rapid leveling off.

    Implementing leveraged growth tactics can be deeply challenging, especially since there are only a limited set of companies that one can look to for examples of how to put this into practice.

    Consider how Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) quickly established leadership positions in the smartphone world largely by developing a platform for third party developers to make their own apps. Or look at the phenomenal growth of Li & Fung, a Chinese company, now orchestrating over 10,000 business partners in their global network of apparel manufacturers.

    In this column and the contributions that will follow from us, we will explore the potential of leveraged growth and what is required to make it a significant contributor to shareholder value.

    Here are four key opportunities and issues associated with leveraged growth:

1. Leveraged growth can improve a company's economic performance

    Whether we talk about growing organically or through acquisitions, traditional growth initiatives require significant upfront investment followed by long waiting periods for these investments to deliver. Both traditional approaches also come with considerable uncertainty about the probability and size of the return on investment. In an increasingly competitive global economy, this kind of uncertainty is not very attractive.

    Leveraged growth can modify this pattern in significant ways: the initial investment can be much more modest and the growth approach can be modified as a company receives feedback.

2. The importance of business ecosystems

    A business ecosystem is any set of more than two independent players that interact with each other on an ongoing basis to access resources from each other. This covers everything from a simple supply chain to vast global networks with thousands of participants. An ecosystem can be a contest where large numbers of people compete for prizes or a scenario where a broker helps to bring together partners to work together on a specific task.

    Executives understand that ecosystems are becoming increasingly important. But, in private, they express significant confusion and frustration regarding the loose way that these ecosystems are often discussed.

    Working within different types of ecosystems requires very different management styles, but executives are often left to their own devices to figure out which style to choose and discover what works as they go along.

    Not all ecosystems are created equal and many companies today are trapped in partnerships that significantly limit their growth opportunities.

3. Choosing the best way to work within a business ecosystem

    Executives often fear that joining a business ecosystem means that they will lose control of their business. But that doesn't have to be the case. Ecosystems demand active involvement and management so they can deliver the most value to their participants.

4. Leveraged growth benefits from new generations of technology

    There are so few examples of successful leveraged growth today, especially for large companies, because these kinds of tactics are very difficult to implement without very close communication between all the participating players.

    Today, however, cloud computing, social software, sensor technology and mobile technology, are changing the game in profound ways. For example, it is now possible to monitor the complex equipment of participants in a global business ecosystem and deliver real-time updates to participants wherever they are in the world -- coordination that would have been impossible to achieve at a large scale just a few years ago.

    ----

    The four items above bring us back to Apple and Google, companies that have deftly taken advantage of an army of willing, hungry application developers who can now sell their wares on virtual markets thanks to technological advances. We'll take a closer look at each of the opportunities and issues related to leveraged growth mentioned above in future columns.

    John Hagel III is co-chairman and John Seely Brown is independent co-chairman of the Silicon Valley-based Deloitte Center for the Edge, which conducts research to support corporate growth.

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