In each engagement I find myself asking the same questions of clients to challenge their thinking. Here’s a small selection that are worth asking to your organisation. Each one represents one aspect of our five ‘vectors’ of technology-driven change.
Q1. What’s your next business model? (Agility)
It used to be that if you had a business model that worked, it would probably keep working for a few decades. The nature of your product, your customers, your supply chain and your channel was unlikely to change radically for some time, unless you were unlucky enough to start your business on the cusp of some major revolution.
Now those revolutions seem to come ever more frequently. The internet, mobile, affordable computing have all wiped out some models. AI, drones, self-driving cars, look set to wipe out many more.
How safe is your current model? Probably not that safe.
So what are you going to do next?
Q2. Can you name all of your competitors? (Diversity)
Researching the future kitchen recently I went on Ali Baba and found hundreds of Chinese companies selling kitchen units. I bet most British kitchen makers don’t know they exist. Or that they now have a direct route to the UK market.
Technology lowers the barriers to entry and increases the reach for suppliers, competitors and channels to market.
Are keeping a close eye on them all?
Q3. How fast does information move from the edge of your organisation to the centre? (Performance)
And is it untainted along the way? I ask this question every time I start work with a new client. The answer can be as much as 12 weeks. And on that journey the data has been translated, reformatted and ‘polished’ so many times that most of its meaning has been lost.
Just like a gymnast, an agile organisation needs close connections between its senses and its ‘muscles’. This can be achieved by pushing the power out to the edge of the organisation. Or by smoothing the pathways of information to the centre.
Q4. If there’s a technological advantage to be had in your sector, will you be the first to have it? (Ubiquity)
If you don’t take it, someone else will. And there’s almost always a new advantage to be found.
The way to stay at the forefront is constant experimentation, something too few companies invest in.
How experimental is yours?
Q5. Are you sure of your market’s boundaries? (Scale)
Every organisation seems to be competing across borders these days, one way or another. Retailers increasingly find themselves by foreign competition selling online. Brands find new brands gaining a global following before they’ve had a chance to respond. Even small, niche businesses are finding the long tail models of the marketplaces bring competition where none was expected.
Are you going to be challenged or be a challenger? Do you understand the tools and the traps of international communication and commerce?