By Matt Jobling
There are so many elements to achieving sustained business success these days. Just when a business establishes a position the market dynamics are disrupted by seemingly invisible forces and it needs to reset for the next play in real time.
On the surface it can seem bewildering. The pace of business just gets faster and faster, and the forces driving it seem hidden or unknowable.
Looking a little further we can see that there is combination of technological factors driving this profound economic change, and thankfully there is a clear path to establishing and maintaining organisational fitness for the never-ending game of sustained business success.
It is axiomatic these days that pace of business is increasing, and that traditional and leading edge methods for managing business alike need to learn and adapt, fast and continuously. The key is to embrace these dynamics as a fact of the business life and think through what it means for your business. Because if you don’t, someone else already is!
The ubiquity of technology (smart devices) and cloud offerings (mobility), the rise of social networks (connectedness) and availability and use of data (information and hence choice) are a powerful combination of technologies and innovation. And the speed at which innovation is taking place is accelerating, driving enormous productivity gains, creating new businesses and changing the competitive dynamics of existing industries.
Consider traditional industries like insurance, legal, banking that have not competed directly with technology-based products and services, and that up until now have been insulated to a degree by the strength of their historical market positions. Even they are now directly impacted by the ubiquity of digital channels and far more knowledgeable and discerning customers, and nimble and digitally savvy start-ups moving into their markets.
We all acknowledge the impact of digital technologies on our everyday life. With “big data in our pocket” we can connect to the world in a way that was unimaginable five years ago. No matter where we are we can stay informed, engage with each another, and importantly for businesses, transact based on a whole new view of the world. And this is happening all day, every day, and beyond the confines of geographical boundaries, that until recently where the last significant tariff protecting traditional business models.
Customers these days are been liberated from the traditional business-defined relationships and are defining their own. Power is with the people and they are exercising it by effortlessly researching competing offers and sharing information and opinion within their online communities, informing their decisions.
Build An Adaptive Operational Foundation
Doing business and working on the business are now concurrent and highly interrelated processes. Think flying the plane while you are building it and you get the idea of what it feels like!
The key is an operational foundation that is inherently adaptive, ultra-reliable, that can be counted on to support business not only with quality product and service delivery but also great product and service innovation and development.
Far from being based on fixed structures and processes that are simply funded, resourced and managed, winning organisations must maintain great insight into customers and markets in real-time through continuously refined digital channels, end-to-end management of the customer journey, and the design and collection of aligned metrics.
And they use these analytics to drive strategy and lean planning and steering towards a clearly understood and measurable set of business objectives that are implemented by customer-driven product and service innovation, and continuous, incremental delivery.
Create Highly Enabled Teams
And finally, critical to success in this new world are highly enabled teams aligned to the strategic value streams of the organisation and who have ownership of the implementation plans and business outcomes within. Teams that are supported by leadership with all the skills, experience, behaviours and culture needed to meet and beat the goals agreed with them.
Gone are the days when business can be done with teams waiting for direction from management and within the constraints of static processes and controls. Now it is all about an inspirationally led, supported, knowledgeable and highly enabled and adaptable workforce that has direct line of sight to their customers and all the information, skills, tools and culture to read and respond to their needs. Businesses that get this backbone in place, and maintain it, position themselves for sustainable success.
Those that don’t will either fail to see the real opportunities of the digitally disrupted field of play, or will simply not be able to respond quickly enough to exploit them. And these businesses face the inevitable future of more nimble, digitally savvy innovators making deeper and deeper inroads into their territory as they struggle to hold to operating modes that once served them well but now do not.
So the question to ask is “Are your teams primed and ready to respond to your competitive environment, or are you waiting for the off-season to work on their match fitness?” If the answer is the latter then think again.
In business today the game never ends, the final siren never blows. So adapting to the volatile dynamics of customers and markets and making the necessary course corrections while there is still time to win the current play, while at the very same time thinking strategically, and establishing and maintaining organisational fitness for the next play, and for tomorrow and next month, and next year is the new competitive advantage.