Henry Cloud and John Townsend said, “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” Successful businesses require the ability to change and adapt quickly, to be agile to new approaches and technologies, and to be flexible to the needs of the business and customers.
We are at the wake of monumental change in the business world. How businesses serve and engage with their customers and employees alike are under upward pressure. Customers are driving change with higher expectations for their provider, which can be seen in the rapid waning and waxing of brand loyalty.
New world entrants are quickly displacing legacy firms. Unicorns like Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Uber show how business models are innovating and disrupting the status quo more quickly than we have ever seen before. In July 2015, six companies accounted for 53 percent of the Nasdaq’s $664 billion market value (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Gilead). Five of the six companies are high-tech innovative firms, and four have been around an average 17 years.
Users and customers expect access anywhere, anytime and on any device with interfaces that engage them and make their lives easier. Businesses that are constrained by legacy attitudes, technology platforms and contractual issues are going to increasingly find themselves at risk of displacement and disruption by more agile, faster-moving and adapting businesses. We have seen enough evidence of this already across industries, with new entrants changing the delivery mechanism and form factor to customers. Take, for example, Blockbuster Video falling to the likes of Netflix or Kodak being replaced by digital photography.
New delivery models also bring new ways of interacting and engaging with customers. Gamification is increasingly entering our lives, even if not labeled as such to the user. Take, for example, Waze. This free navigation application rewards users with points and badges for reporting traffic and accidents, which helps the product deliver accurate information without the need to deploy expensive monitoring cameras.
To serve users and customers in a way they want and expect is key to running a successful business. To do this, companies must be open to utilizing new technologies, being mobile, using big data and changing again and again to meet customer needs.
Change is never easy when you have to conform to company or industry policies, security requirements, standards, decision processes and budgets. And it is going to get even harder with the ever higher demands and expectations of users and customers. But resisting change is not the answer.Businesses have to become agile and find ways to change their process to become unconstrained and more flexible.
Technology is moving at an increasing pace and it’s introducing new concepts, approaches and capabilities that can make a big difference to the success of a business. You need to harness change to your advantage and use it as a positive tool against less capable competitors. IT needs to become an agent of change, not a barrier.
Already we have a mix of new world mechanisms, including the cloud, virtualization, mobility, Internet of Things (IOT), big data, gamification, social media, smart devices, 3-D Printing and virtual reality at the forefront. And more are coming as innovation accelerates. Businesses that want to be successful in the coming years need to keep up with technology and quickly learn to use it to their advantage. If you find yourself justifying to your users reasons why you cannot change, ask yourself if you are taking the easy option or if you really can’t do it.
As James Belasco and Ralph Stayer say in “Flight of the Buffalo,” “Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have — and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”