In Part 1 of this series, we took a look at the two most important components of successful companies; creating a stellar experience for your stakeholders and ensuring that your experience is a flexible one so you can change and evolve as the world changes and evolves. In Part 2, we discussed the concept of integration. There is so much data, knowledge, and information available today and your customers, vendors, and employees need access to that data if you are going to be able to deliver a stellar experience. In conjunction with integration, you will need systems, processes, and procedures that clearly define the experience you want to deliver. This is essential because people will resist change, and delivering a consistent and standardized experience each and every time is something they will all need to learn and practice.
In Part 3, we will conclude this series by looking at the three remaining concepts for businesses looking to thrive in this new millennium.
- Changing Processes Means Changing People: Let’s face it, change is the hardest thing any human can do. We instinctively fight change. This is especially true in an organization where the change might not be understood. When people are not sure how the change will positively impact them, they will undoubtedly fight that change every step of the way. “What’s in it for me?” is a basic communication strategy employed by every employee since the idea of an employee was created.
In Part 2 of this series, we discussed the need for comprehensive processes and methodologies, defined systems, and the delivery of a consistent experience from every employee in the company. But what happens when you have an employee not willing to adopt to the new business paradigm you are attempting to deliver? I have a saying, “You don’t change the process to fit the people; you change the people to fit the process.” This is especially difficult in companies where there are employees that have been with the company for a long time, but they are unable or unwilling to adapt to a new process. Remember, you should “never confuse loyalty with loyalty.” I know this might sound strange, but it is a fundamental law of successful businesses. You must be loyal to ALL of the employees, their families, your vendors, and the hundreds or thousands of other people who are counting on you to make the right decision. You can’t be loyal to the ONE that will cost you business, hurt your reputation, or deliver a less than stellar experience. The most loyal thing you can do in this situation is to free that employee to find another company where their vision is better aligned with the company’s vision. Everyone will be happier!
- Being “Open” to More Experiences: There is a new catch phrase making its way through the industry right now. The term is the “internet of things” (IOT). It is everywhere. You even see it when buying a refrigerator, a washer/dryer, a car … it doesn’t matter. If the item you are purchasing has any electronics associated with it, there will be some kind of IOT included. In a nutshell, the “internet of things” refers to having the capability to get to information wherever it might exist. Using the refrigerator as an example, consider the refrigerator that can scan items as you put them into the refrigerator and keep a running tally of what you have in the refrigerator at any time. It can also create a shopping list as you run out of things. It can not only tell you when you need a new water filter, but it can check pricing and availability on Amazon. It will also tell you when it needs service, and can even contact your service company automatically so they arrive at your house knowing what the problem is, and what part is needed to fix it.
Within the next few years, we will be getting our packaged delivered by drone—same day. Many companies are already in testing. The FAA has already approved airspace. Of course, we all know about cars that drive themselves. Even if you are not sure about whether or not you are for it, the technology is being created right now.
RFID technology can be used for more than just tagging inventory items. In many states, the vehicle registration tags will have RFID in them. Police can simply park at an intersection and “inventory” cars as they drive by. If your registration is not current, they can stop you—the same day it expires. This could also happen at every toll both, intersection, and government building in any city in the U.S.
New York City has more than 9,000 (quickly approaching 10,000) cameras linked to a single system in the NYPD. Called the Domain Awareness System, it is a single system among many tens of thousands of other cameras that are used by companies or private citizens. There will be an estimated 45 BILLION cameras worldwide by 2022.
When you browse the internet, artificial intelligence is now monitoring what you see, read, download, purchase, and communicate with. This is a fact of life.
How are you using this technology in your company? And before you take the “high road” and decide you are not going to do this, go back to the very first section of this blog series and re-read what happens to companies that are unwilling or unable to adapt to the changing world. Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it won’t be common place, expected, even necessary in the near future. It’s not a question of if, not even when—it is a question of how. How will you use all this power within your company? How will you make sense of the data? How will you use this information to create an exceptional experience for your customers?
- Being Culturally Aware: Finally, to thrive in the 21st century, your company must become culturally and generationally aware. Baby Boomers are retiring. Generation X and Generation Y are starting to move into positions of economic power. This is simply a fact of time. We get older and a new generation replaces us. But in today’s world, this new generation thinks and acts differently—VERY differently. I was in San Francisco International Airport waiting for a flight from the West Coast to the East Coast. As I was “people watching,” I noticed a man leaning against a pillar reading his golfing magazine. I noticed him first because he was actually reading a hard copy magazine. Then I noticed he had two sons. They were standing on either side of him, about two feet apart. They were both staring intently into their personal data assistants (PDAs). I didn’t know if they were cell phones or not, but they probably were. The boys were maybe eight and ten years old. At one point, the older boy leaned forward and looked at his brother as if he asked, “did you get that?” They were texting each other from two feet apart! At first, I thought about how stupid this was and I immediately began thinking about what kind of blog article I could write about this current state of human communications. After all, these two boys were symptomatic of a much larger issue that includes billions of people around the planet. And then it hit me…
The problem was not the two boys. The problem was me. These two boys have never lived in a time where texting was not the preferred way of communicating. They don’t know another way. THIS is the issue CEOs and business leaders of today need to understand. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with it. But you DO have to deal with it. The way people communicate, the way people research your products, the way people purchase your solutions, the way people will let others know of their experience … it’s all changed. Forever. So deal with it. Even the Pope is blogging these days.
And if you think that is the only issue, let me enlighten you some more. In 2006, there were a record number of births in the US and 49% of them were Hispanic. Hispanics now account for 17% of the total US population (2012). By 2060, it is projected that Hispanics will number over 128.8 million people and that will equate to roughly 31% of the nation’s population. One interesting statistic suggests that the US may have more Hispanics than Mexico by this time. Hispanics represent the largest minority population in twenty-one US states today. These statistics must change the way of thinking for any company that hopes to thrive in the 21st century. How are you communicating and serving this demographic? What kind of experience are you giving them?
What kind of experience are you creating for your customers, prospects, vendors, partners, and employees? This is your competitive advantage. This is your business model. This is your path to success. To survive or thrive … it’s all about the experience.