In today’s business landscape, it is no longer safe for companies to aim for success then hold their ground. As a matter of fact, they have to keep moving just to remain in the same position. The choice is clear: continue to innovate, grow and disrupt your own business, or risk getting the gift of disruption handed to you and becoming irrelevant.
With this in mind bmobile has partnered with the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce to introduce a new award at the - Champions of Business gala event. The “Business Technology Award” sponsored by bmobile, recognises companies or individuals that are using technology to carve a path to success for their business and customers.
The winner of the highly-coveted Business Technology Award will also receive a customized bmobile Business Solutions Package valued at $10,000.00. Nominations are open until August 24th at midnight and the award will be presented to the winner at the Champions of Business Awards Ceremony and Gala to be held on November 1st at the National Academy for Performing Arts in Port of Spain.
Through this initiative, bmobile and the Chamber are challenging businesses to take a more strategic look at how they deploy technology in their operations.
Stay Relevant and Different
In today’s increasingly digitally connected economy, it has never been more important for companies to deliver products, services and experiences that are personally relevant to consumers and meaningfully different from the competition. But staying relevant isn’t easy.
Advances in technology, access to capital and resources, and the ability to create capabilities that improve their brand promise give innovative companies the leading edge over the laggards. Those who find themselves struggling to keep up with consumers’ expectations and competitors’ moves usually have three viable strategic choices they can make:
❏ Gain parity - adopt a fast-second strategy and copy the competition to create a close-enough or exact offering;
❏ Leapfrog the innovation - takeover the category by innovating in a substantial way that leapfrogs the competition;
❏ Reposition your brand - create a new value proposition that the market needs
Business As Usual Equals Doom
However, there is another move that laggard companies can choose: to stick to their guns and continue with a business as usual strategy. Rather than adapting or evolving, they keep pursuing the same strategy with the same value proposition. The only difference is that they aim for efficiency (faster, cheaper, better). Taking a ‘business as usual’ approach in an evolving market/category with an increasingly connected and sophisticated consumer is the equivalent to the modern-day kiss of death.
Ultimately, true innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes from understanding the fundamental principles on which great brands build themselves i.e. they offer a clear and relevant customer promise; they build trust by delivering on that promise; they drive performance by continually improving on that promise; and they seek further advantage in the market by innovating beyond the familiar.
The companies who decide to embark on the journey of innovation and digital transformation have a similar trait among their leaders and managers and in their culture over time: they share the ethos of constructive dissatisfaction. They are never comfortable with the status quo. In fact, they are continually challenging the status quo.
At Amazon (the world’s largest online retailer), Jeff Bezos - founder, chairman, and chief executive officer - constantly reminds his workers and shareholders of Amazon’s biggest enemy: Stasis. Followed by irrelevance, then excruciating, painful decline. He challenges them every year to stay at Day 1, which is focus on customer obsession, resist slaving over processes and embrace external trends.
Avoid the Pitfalls of Success
If companies are to take a page out of the Amazon playbook and remain at Day 1, it calls for them to be wary of their own success and the thinking that made them perform well in the first place. In the ‘Innovator's Dilemma’ by Clay Christensen, the author warns that good management and clear strategic choices were the reasons most companies like Sears, Xerox and Apple (in its early days) found success. Paradoxically, good management and repeating the same strategy moves were also the most powerful reasons companies failed to stay relevant, different and atop their industry.
Human behaviour is no different from company behaviour. We find something that gives pleasure or brings reward then we rinse and repeat until it works no more. Unfortunately, the business of today doesn’t have the luxury to wait until the strategy stops delivering results then to challenge it or change it. By then, too much damage has already been done.
The powerful, yet contradictory lesson here, is that it is good to keep up your competitive antennas, but it is not good to obsess over competitors who might miss an emerging category trend. It is wise to listen astutely to customers, but it is also unwise to always listen to customers who don’t always know what they want. Who asked for an iPhone? It is sound strategy to invest in new technologies, but it is flawed strategy to over-invest in them.
Embrace Technology & Innovation
There are two important questions that companies must ask themselves when seeking to adopt new technologies, embrace emerging trends, and innovate to give themselves the gift of disruption, before it is given to them:
1. What business am I really in?
La Cantina Pizzeria understood that in their business immediacy trumps loyalty. When Kester Sylvester (owner) and Darius Camino (General Manager) adopted bmobile’s Hosted PBX System they valued being available and ready to answer their customers’ calls, while connecting staff across their three restaurants via a multi-channel call centre operation.
2. What business should I be in?
Leslie Martinez, Head of IT, and the team at Unicomer Trinidad Limited –of which Courts, Courts Optical, Ashley Furniture HomeStore, RadioShack, Lucky Dollar and Servitech are member companies - asked themselves this very question. By looking at how retail giants and customer experiences are evolving, they decided to use bmobile's Enterprise data and security solutions to build their business securely in the Cloud and digitally put their offerings in the hands of consumers. This enables Unicomer to deliver relevant, convenient online shopping experiences with ease and delight.
The idea is not for companies to rush and arm themselves with the latest technology, innovate and digitally transform their offerings and operations for fear of becoming irrelevant. The real ambition should be to begin with the end in mind. And to simply ask, which innovation and technologies can help us become more relevant (to our customers) and different (from our competition) to win the hearts, minds and dollars of today’s and tomorrow’s customers.
If your company or someone you know embodies the ethos of constructive dissatisfaction and embraces appropriate technology for creative solutions and customer satisfaction, you can nominate them for the Business Technology Award. Visit the Chamber website at Chamber.org.tt for details and nomination forms before the August 24th deadline.