Simple Math: Technology + Business + Communication = More Business

Home / Bidding Quarterly / Simple Math: Technology + Business + Communication = More Business

We are in the middle of something that will be written about decades from now. Our children’s children will be telling their grandchildren about it. While some view it as the scourge of modern man, the Digital Revolution is great for business. Industries globally are accelerating, including our ability to produce high-quality bids and proposals to win and retain new business.

The Industrial Revolution of the 1920s was the last time we credited and celebrated our ability to do more business quickly and efficiently. We’ve replaced the smokestacks and cotton gins of the Industrial Revolution with the silicon chips and massive computing power of the Digital Revolution. Most social scientists say the Digital Revolution started in the early 1980s but agree we are in the middle of its sweet spot right now – at least for the moment.

We’ve gone from the first wave of the internet (thank you Sir Tim Berners-Lee) in 1989 to our current thoroughbred version. We’ve watched the rise of smartphones (thank you Steve Jobs), portable devices, and digital television grow and go since 2005. Cloud computing got its start in 2010 and is ubiquitous now. By 2012 over two billion people were on the internet, twice the number than in 2007. In 2021, it more than doubled again, with approximately 4.66 billion regular internet users, according to Statista, a company that tracks such things.

Over the last 20 years, the tech boom has matured the bid and proposals industry, becoming a lethal force in winning and retaining business. Never in the collective global citizenry have we had so much computing, research, and business development power at our fingertips. Think about it – in just a little over 13 years, and we’ve gone from a tech bust (2008) back to a tech boom and a rocket ride into the future.

APMP member companies have taken note and have combined tech tools and collaboration with improving efficiencies.

For example, one APMP member company has mobilised its global departments for a “Follow the Sun” bid and proposal strategy. Its team in Australia has responsibility for starting the day and moving the bid and its related projects to team members in Eastern Europe who wake up to their parts. They pass the work to teams in Western Europe, and then the last leg is handed off to their American counterparts. Finally, it rinses and repeats until the bid is complete.

Although not without its hiccups, the company reports collaboration and productivity are up, with a 30% saving on turnaround time. They are building a collaborative culture and know it contributes to their goal of winning more business.

Tech has also fuelled a complete change on APMP’s show floor at Bid and Proposal Con (BPC). Once dominated by consultants who would sell their services and offer training, the Digital Revolution has cleared the way for software companies to rule the show floor, most touting some form of built-in AI. As a result, software exhibitor participation has exploded at BPC, marking a 75 percent increase since 2011.

The Digital Revolution isn’t without its challenges. At work, too, are inherent cultural differences when collaborating across the globe. The obvious hurdles are language and time zone differences but there are apps and tech workarounds to address these.

What’s more challenging is the way we communicate with each other. For example, Americans (I freely admit to this because I am one) share much more directly and matter-of-factly. Unfortunately, this communication style can be viewed as abrupt and “telling us what to do.” I know this. I have heard it from some of our chapter leaders in my nearly 11 years at APMP.

I have learned, and am still learning, how to communicate globally. We are different people with a wide array of communications styles across the globe. As an American, I’ve understood time must be invested in learning the “communication culture” of the professional you’re working/partnering with in another part of the world. Learn their culture and communicate that way to them.

For example, how I communicate with someone from the UK is completely different from how I share with someone from India or Japan. In all cases, for the best collaborative outcome, it is best to conform to their country’s or region’s communication style.  It took a while to learn this, but the results are better.

Communication is the sweet spot of any revolution, even (especially?) the Digital Revolution we’re experiencing right now.

This article was written by Rick Harris.

Rick has 32 years of association management experience, with the last ten years spent as the CEO of APMP. He is committed to the bid and proposal industry and has guided the association to a 100% growth in membership (now at 10,500+ members) over that time. With the help of APMP’s Board of Directors, Rick created Bid & Proposal Con Europe™ and Bid & Proposal Con Asia™ to promote professionalism in the bid and proposal industry worldwide. He is APMP Practitioner certified and encourages all bid and proposal professionals to join APMP.

Back to Foreword