As you know very well, we find ourselves taken to a period in history when, though many of the reasons are almost inexplicably hidden, what brings us together has shifted from connectivity to hyperactivity and have left many businesses with little to do but close or change. This post looks at the implications of this new reality, hopefully from some new angles that you can consider for your business.
The issue for so many organizations today is they invest into what is currently making them money. This is logical and seems intuitively correct until you stop to consider that everything in the business world now moves and changes at 10 times the rapidity than just 20 years ago. As a result, a business’ life span can be cut short if it does not stay current with what its customers want.
Consider what happened to the Big Three U.S. automakers who spent nearly nothing on strategy in the 70’s and 80’s and got their brains beat out of them in the 90’s through today. Why did this happen? Simply because they were making a lot of money on their cars so it was counter intuitive to imagine that unknown Japanese and Korean car makers would produce higher quality cars at lower prices that would technically put them out of business. But that’s exactly what happened.
Or consider the printing and publishing businesses. I can recall typesetters picketing the Chicago Tribune Newspaper because management wanted to train them how to use computers to set type versus the hot metal they had been using for decades. This example is iconic of so many technological progressive changes that have totally changed how we think about print and how we use it. It’s not anything near what it was and it’s continuing to evolve each day.
Recently, Jeffrey R. Immelt, current chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the U.S.-based conglomerate General Electric pointed out during his interview on Charlie Rose’s show that everything we are currently using in our homes and businesses will eventually be driven by artificial intelligence and that digital technologies will simply be the electricity that powers them.
Cars, trains, planes, refrigerators, garage doors, and every other appliance we take for granted each day will become linked and share their knowledge with you and among themselves. The difference, or the change, will be when they start talking to us about what they “think” we need. Instead of a grey box that you use for computing, all of our devices will possess the capability of reasoning and learning based on what we prefer.
From this artificial intelligence our devices will get to know us and begin a type of relationship with us beyond advising us when it’s time to change a filter or close our garage door. In this more advanced hyperactivity our devices will not only tell us these things they will order the new filter, close the garage door, and do a long list of other things that we will soon begin to take for granted. That’s progress in the new hyperactivity we’re moving into.
So how does this relate to a smaller business and larger ones today? First let’s look at a few data points:
There are approximately 28 million small businesses in the United States that account for one third of the nation’s exports and employ 56 million people with 64% of all new jobs created from 1993 to 2013. Clearly small business is a major factor among our total job market.
Now ask yourself how many of these small businesses think that strategy development is critical to their future and how many put their money into building a solid strategy on a daily basis? Yes, all businesses think about strategy and discuss related issues, but the vast majority do so using their in-house thinking and resources. Some are good guesses, others are brilliant and come up with terrific ideas, but the grand majority fail to achieve year 10 and of those that do only one of them will make it to year 20.
Perhaps it’s why people like your product or service so much more than love them. Your strategy holds the key to whether you can walk across the barrier of your customers liking your product to loving them. The best companies take the time to figure this out and drive their companies with a well-honed and well-researched strategy. In this new age it looks like you will need to invest in your future to ensure you have one.