Consumers are ever more fickle and demanding, supply chains ever more nimble, lean competitors popping up left, right and centre, all while an overwhelming number of techy buzzwords are catching headlines.
The “Digital Era” has resulted in many businesses acting like rabbits staring in to oncoming headlights.
The pace and diversity of these changes are ever increasing.
The market has moved on; at an accelerating pace! How consumers can access information, communicate, transact and interact, and similarly for how business is conducted.
What businesses and consumers do are pretty much the same as what was the case since the industrial revolution, the main changes has been in granularity, transparency, access, connectedness, and timeliness of information and services.
Think of what has changed in terms of content for entertainment and information. Information and promotion was bound to static, verbose, broad collated content, now, it is not. From newspapers, then specialist magazines, then television, to websites, and now social media channels. The consumer and business model is the same, all that has changed is that the content became rapidly more granular, accessible and curated.
Yesteryear’s retail was bound to physical stores, due to the limitations of information access and sharing. Consumers had to go to a physical store to see a product, get information, process a transaction and collect a purchase.
We still live in a physical world, we just have more tools to access information and perform transactions remotely…the same information, content and products are at play, but ubiquitously across a plethora of channels.
This is primarily attributed to ever more “digital” and automated nature of the world…pervasive Data, strings of 1s and 0s.
The rapid advances in methods and tools for data access and distribution are the drivers in the accelerated “digital disruption”.
“Digital”, essentially the interpretable data streams from all over, combined into information; a shift from isolated, verbose, complex, and static sets of information, to the ubiquitous flow, access and automation of information. Everywhere, from anywhere and anything, aggregated, spliced, augmented. Accessed, consumed and processed by humans and machines alike. It is pervasive and therefore has set the expectations of consistency, simplicity, convenience, and seamlessness.
“Cloud” platforms (processing and storage) and services (“software”) exists because public network (internet) connections allow for commodity remote server access. IOT is only a thing because of (non-physical) network connectivity. Machine Learning is only possible because of diverse data aggregation and cheap processing. Robotics and automation is only a result of granularity and access to data, enabled by connectivity. Even the Internet would not be possible without network connections and servers.
The ever faster evolution is part driven by ever more rapidly advancing tools/technology and accessibility to it, but more based on how others are effectively exploiting and the propositions it enables for customers.
Our current “digital” conundrum is not due to anything new, just how people exploited connectivity, processing and storage advances.
APIs, AI, blockchain, Cloud, IoT, etc. are merely productised manifestations of the opportunities, but not solutions in themselves. It is not about the tech, but the customers and ecosystem’s expectations for how they want to communicate, transact and be supported. Of what others have enabled through the use of technology.
This accelerated evolution can be dizzying. But with all evolution, there is a choice to be made; Adjust and thrive, or stagnate and be subject to demise.
New tools and models present opportunities and challenges. It leaves your business with a hard choice to make…
- Change the way you work. Customer interactions, how services/products are packaged, use of emerging tools available, and ever incrementally adjusting to keep up with the rapidly evolving ecosystem around you.
- Maintain the internal status quo. Continue with business-as-usual products/services and engaging the market based on inside-out approach. Reactively responding to changes, attempting buzzword linked transformations, chasing the latest “digital” channel, or responding to perceived market segment preferences.
Option Two is likely to steer your business in the direction of decline and irrelevance. It is not sufficient to try and follow others, copy services or changing products based on an internally perceived desire of a market segment. This will definitely result in your business experiencing disruption.
Option One, while no easy feat, will set your business on course to survive, if not thrive, in the ever more rapidly evolving market ecosystem. It is not about changing your business model or industry, but evolving how you work, your operating model and structure. Adjusting appropriately to what is relevant to the contemporary market and empowering your organisation to put the ever faster evolution of tools to appropriate use.
Changing to embrace change may be easier said than done, but a necessity for current and future relevance.
Many organisations are stuck in industrial revolution type structures and models, and the leadership and culture echoing that. The change is not difficult, but having executives and layers of management requiring a dramatic change towards transparency, empowerment and awareness is incomprehensible by some.
It is more comfortable to persist the status quo than to admit that how they’ve always worked and their core skills are outdated. Corporate inertia, not continuously improving relevant to the market, is a killer of businesses.
The gap between those that keep pace with technology evolution and exploit digital business models, and those that lag in doing so, will rapidly become wider.
Your business needs to change in the direction of what is informed from an Outside-in perspective. Leveraging, learning and adjusting to the market…evolving in-sync with the ecosystem. If you don’t monitor the evolutionary market changes, exploit the latest tools and methods (appropriately!), or create solutions to serve market this rapidly evolving ecosystem, then the expectations, behaviour and market conditions will be shaped by others.
Accelerated evolution of technology and approaches to customer expectations will provide opportunity for many. Simpler services and operations enabled through exploiting what the ecosystem has to offer and expect. New, easier, cheaper, and more effective.
It is a blessing for those businesses that harness this. Ecosystems favours those with rapid evolution at its core.
The businesses that embrace change will become ever more relevant, and become the natural predators of those that failed to adjust themselves to enable the ability respond to the faster pace of ecosystem evolution.