Underlying marketing of the Cloud, global digital commerce, one to one marketing, etc… is the essential element of “ease of doing business”. Many are no longer willing to take an hour from their day, to go buy their dog’s food for the month, with the alternative to purchase on-line, in a couple minutes (for a similar cost), readily available. When an organization finds itself, challenged to stand competitively differentiated from others in this regard, potential mitigating factors include: cost, experiential interaction, and rarity.
As the president of a bank, you get a competitive intelligence report, that branch wait times for teller service are 50% greater than the competitive norm. Root cause analysis uncovers your legacy systems are slow, and will take up to 2 years to re-mediate. Competitive responses could include remodeling your branches, to look more like a Starbucks, with free coffee and soft drinks, as this provides for an “experiential” response. Secondly, add transactional services in-branch, not provided by competitors, such as real-time credit card replacement, which adds “rarity”. Finally, terminating charges for items like money orders, impacts “cost”.
While not being able, in the short term, deal with “root cause” (system latency), competitive risk is reduced through making the bank branch experience more enjoyable, offering additional services, and less transaction specific cost.
Going Against The Grain Of Common Wisdom
Current trends suggest a demand for Omni-channel consumer experience, bio-metric user authentication, predictive behavior based marketing, and digital “experiential commerce”. Early evidence suggests a rapid response, is not necessarily the best response, to these new technology paradigms. Case in point, Nintendo’s Pokey Mon Go. They found themselves so caught up in the moment, they took the product to market, before performing adequate product profit profiling. The CEO, day one, was touting a market valuation increase of 9 billion, to only soon thereafter issue a profit warning, that the product, was profit neutral.
The late 1990’s reflected the rise of the ERP Solution craze, which promised to materially transform organizational performance and profitability. Early implementers often found delivery timelines and cost, materially greater than planned. History would at least suggest, that being an “early adopter” of technology driven business paradigms, often result in sub-optimal outcomes.
Additionally, various regulatory bodies which oversee the conduct of public companies, tend to “react to” risk, rather than “be ahead of” risk, which emerges over time. As the digital commerce solution space is advancing at an unprecedented pace, many regulatory bodies are taking a wait and observe stance. Regulators do not benefit from regulating, unnecessarily. Many early adopters of bio-metric user authentication are investing millions in this technology, and as long as the technology is proven to be “patent”, their investments will be safe. However, if this emergent technology, is proven “fallible”, this market differentiating technology could be erased as a competitive differentiator, and capitalized investment, an immediate cost write-off.
Charting An Organizational “Practical” Course
Metaphorically, “patient heal thyself” argues that when one finds themselves as a pre-diabetic, through change in eating habits, and personal activity, the onset of diabetes can be stopped in its tracks, prior to being drawn into a lifetime of third party medical treatment. Organizations who have shown the tenacity, to grow from a startup, to that of a publicly listed company, and able to maintain economic relevance, should first and foremost undertake internal organizational reinvention over time. There are few who would argue that global economies, are headed toward becoming largely automated. Internal organizational reinvention, over time, is virtually always preferable, to third party intervention, as the ideal response. When internal organizational “stakeholders”, take personal ownership of their business reinvention, they gain, “personal ownership”, which no third party can instill.
Below are a set of straight forward discovery questions, some of which, are relevant from the BOD down to the junior programmer/customer service representative:
(Depending on each organizations internal and external peculiarities, the time box should be between 2 and 5 years.)
-Are current business earnings forecasts being impacted, and if not now, when, if at all?
-Are current/potential future competitors offering, market facing digital commerce differentiation, which will affect our market share in the future?
-Will the DNA of our business “uniqueness” self-sustain itself?
-When considering the future of our business, what underutilized competitive assets, do we have in hand, which can be better leveraged in the future?
-Does our corporate culture reflect that of a “sporting league”, or that of an “integrated team”?
-If were not a synergistic team, how do we become one?
-If the clear “voice of the customer” is heard, what are we not doing that we should be doing, and what are we currently doing that we should cease, which when action is taken, we represent to the customer the best we can be?
-Regarding technology, from networks to programming code, and data bases, what are our greatest assets to our greatest weaknesses? With this data in hand, rank the emerging list of digital commerce solutions, as to viewed ease of implementation, and materiality of new functionality.
-Regarding business operations, rank operational functions from best in class, to worst in class, and effectiveness? Rank the emerging list of operational functions emergent from digital commerce as to viewed ease of adoption, as well as contribution to improved customer perception.
Through the assimilation of the answers to these straight forward internal assessment points, emergent should be the answers to the following key questions, as it relates to organization self-adoption into the emergent digital economy, as a whole:
-How fast should we take action tactically, and strategically, considering a dualistic technology/operation, mindset?
-What are the emergent technology and operational reinvention initiatives to be undertaken, their value add, along with their associated timing?
With the addition of cost, and solution delivery duration, the organizational strategic plan, can be modified in such a manner that it can be socialized across the organization, as a basis to gain broad based individual “buy in”. Keeping this endeavor simplistic, rather than monolithic, makes event driven reevaluation, easily achievable, and further recognizes that in the emergent world of the digital economy, there is as much yet to be discovered, as compared to what is known to date!