Longevity and business tactics in a technology-driven age

Saratoga’s take on transformation

Finding one thing that you can be the best at in your field of industry, and making that your company’s raison d’etre is lauded as the best strategy for any business. Jim Collins calls it the Hedgehog Concept which, simply put, shows that the fox, for all his cunning and many talents, is defeated by the hedgehog’s expertise in one area; defence. Collins warns not to be like the fox, who knows many things, but rather be like the hedgehog – who will always win as he is the best in what he does.

By Rebecca Maserow

It’s an obscure but popular analogy for business strategy and is based on a powerful and insistent principle of excellence. In the current technology climate of business and IT, there is a fortune of information on strategy in the race to enterprise longevity. Saratoga’s strategy style has long since been one of steady growth and pragmatism with a staple of excellence. So what’s Saratoga’s hedgehog?

Saratoga uses a steady process of transformation with a focus on out-of-the-box thinking to grow not only itself, but its clients and the community. First discussed, is how technologists at Saratoga use creative thinking to find compact and impactful future-fit solutions, and then in a future article, we’ll look at how Saratoga uses creative thinking as a means to build an infrastructure for the future.

How technologists solve problems you didn’t know you had

Many people have heard the term technologist, and most can extrapolate what the role entails. “Despite the fairly obvious common thread and common purpose that these folk share, it is difficult to coin a single term that collectively describes professionals with these skills,” says Saratoga CEO, Mark Gebhardt. Problem-solving seems to be an inadequate word to describe the way in which technologists are able to possess a full spectrum and up-to-date understanding of all things technical.

Their expertise lies in their ability to see how systems work together in what is often a Jackson Pollock-esque diatribe. “We’re T-shaped problem solvers with decades of experience in a variety of fields.Our intense curiosity means that we’re familiar with many different aspects of technology, making us the ideal partner for connecting people, technology and business opportunities.”

Ulvi Guliyev, Head of Technology Consulting at Saratoga, says that “the term technologist, as applied to the field of software, implies having computing in your DNA. It’s about having that foundation of knowledge across programming paradigms and technology platforms that allow you to perceive ubiquity of formalisms across what is perceived to be a wide range of specialisations. But even more so, being a software technologist means applying your fluid intelligence, utilising instincts that would allow you to reason about complex problems in terms of description logic and make inferences not otherwise attainable through documented wisdoms”. The creativity that Ulvi affords his team is from a leadership heaped in experience, where piloting a team of technologists who imbibe lateral thinking is a mandatory state of being.

Saratoga’s hedgehog is transformation. Its specialists are able to think out of the box, or more quirkily, to out-think the box. Saratoga’s ability to remain grounded while arming their problem-solving agents with the toolbox and freedom to create and design future-fit solutions.

It’s this creative thinking that benefits all of Saratoga’s clients. Many take an open-minded approach to problem-solving, but it’s truly embracing an ‘Out-Think-that-Box’ mentality while still holding a steady and pragmatic approach to operations that Saratoga uses to maintain excellence, industry leadership and trust. In4Group observes the “widening divergence between the IT infrastructure demanded by emerging business needs and the infrastructure they’ve built up over generations, organisations now require their CIOs to bring more out-of-the-box approaches to transform the current technology landscape.”

Practising what we preach; re-engineering the Saratoga way

Gebhardt says “Our approach to acquisition has always been far more Berkshire Hathaway than Sungard.” The fireworks aren’t going to get the job done, “we’re less in-your-face than many other companies, because we’re focused on being on the ground, getting our hands dirty and supporting initiatives that are close to our vision.” says Saratoga’s Creative Director, Tracy Gander. Whether it’s through designing coursework for students, co-ordinating conferences on Big Data, sponsoring impactful data on Business Analysis, or being an active supporter of the tech community, Saratoga sees them all as individual cogs that make up a bigger system. It was with projects like these in mind that Saratoga recently went through a process of restructuring, and the transformation was an integral step in the growth of the company, “we always see a few steps ahead, we are already working toward a national footprint, while we have some presence outside of Cape Town, we are going to be expanding that with a much stronger Saratoga brand,” explained Gebhardt, “what we’re creating has a much bigger picture to it.”

Also see previous article Big Business joins social community: how ICT, industry’s social responsibility, is the best bet for change.

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