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I watched a great TED talk recently, by Vidia Mooneegan, in which he explains the principles of transformation in terms even the most obstinate Luddites among us couldn’t deny.
There’s no doubt time has almost run out for traditional businesses that haven’t transformed and if you are enjoying business as usual and wondering what all the fuss is about you are most certainly about to get a shock.
As Mooneegan says, the disrupters creep up on you from nowhere and, because the pace of change is accelerating at a mind-blowing pace there is nothing you can do about it if you are still operating a traditional model. He reminds us that while it took FaceBook three-and-a-half years to gather 50million subscribers, it took WhatsApp fifteen months and AngryBirds fifteen days! Such is the rate of acceleration.
There’s more bad news too, because, by definition, a digital business has infinite capacity. A single digital organisation could, in theory at least, handle all the customers in any given sector.
We know the majority of businesses aren’t ready. Some still don’t get it and others are in denial, usually because their leaders don’t know what to do so they bury their heads in the sand and hope it will all blow over. It will of course.
In the digital economy, everything is transient. The world will move on to the next phase in our evolution, but sadly if you haven’t kept up, you won’t be there to see it. As I have said many times “You are only as good as your NEXT big idea”.
Sure, transformation is nothing new. I’ve used events including the discovery of fire right through to the industrial revolution to illustrate this. The difference this time is that change is driven by digital technology, which apart from adding pace, means it reaches into every area of our lives and is fundamental. This is by far the biggest step to date in the process of business evolution.
The fact that this change is “Fundamental” means digitising your existing business model isn’t the answer. In fact, it could be argued all you would be doing by taking this approach is greasing the pole to your demise.
Traditional business models simply don’t work in the digital economy, they can’t deliver the solutions required and they just won’t keep up with digital competitors. Digitising existing processes may help you move faster, but you’ll be accelerating in the wrong direction.
To succeed in the digital economy you need to re-invent your business. Start by looking for new ways to deploy your resources, new structures and new products. Align yourself to the opportunities of the new, digital marketplace.
However, you need to understand that this is a moving train. There are no stops on this line. The transformation is perpetual. Mooneegan echoes my own belief that today’s successful organisations transform as they transact.
He also highlights the point I have raised many times, that today’s business leaders are, almost by definition, ill-equipped to drive transformation and unprepared to manage a digital business.
It’s easy to understand why, in supporting traditional transformation, traditional business leaders feel like turkeys voting for Xmas, but that’s probably why businesses are failing to respond to the need to change. There’s no doubt that many business leaders, conscious of their own shortcomings, are obstructing change.
This doesn’t have to be the case though. In fact, the experience of senior managers is their ace card and secures their role in any transformed business, they just have to apply it in a different way and learning this is part of the Brand-Led Business Transformation process.
While more than sixty per-cent of business recognise the need for change only twenty-one per-cent of those have a plan. This means that most businesses don’t react until they see the whites of their disrupters eyes and, as I have already said, that’s far too late.
Their response, when it does come, doesn’t meet the need for speed, so they often end up cutting corners and trying to make and mend. The inevitable outcome is 70% of transformations are currently failing and it is estimated a third of today’s businesses will cease to exist within three years.
However, there is still a narrow window of opportunity for organisations that want to catch up. Not all will succeed, but no business can afford to stand still and if you approach transformation correctly the odds could swing in your favour. There is a process you have to follow, of course, and if you by-pass it you will certainly fail.
There are many excuses presented for transformation failure, but they all boil down to one thing – the absence of focus. The thing is, that focus is enshrined in your brand and the solution we have been looking for is Brand Led Business Transformation. It’s faster, cheaper and less painful than other approaches and for many organisations, it is their last chance of survival.
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