The only reason you're reading this is because 2000 years ago, your ancestors learned that in order to excel they had to continue to adapt and change. When it came to eating, they understood which plants were poisonous and which ones were safe to eat.
In order for your company to stay relevant in today's evolving (and ever more interconnected) world, changes, such as these shifts described below are needed. They are listed in a progressive order, and each successive step builds on the previous one.
1. From the Filing cabinet to the Cloud
Last week I had a meeting with a well-known insurance company in Philadelphia. To my surprise, I saw filing cabinets everywhere. 'You're paying thousands of dollars each month to rent this amazing building, only to fill half of the space with unsightly metal paper holders?'
All of that can and should be scanned and stored in a secure cloud server for accessibility and easy retrieval whenever necessary. Additionally, what would happen if there were a fire? Losing data can be devastating. Going from paper documents to digital storage is a mental shift, as much as a physical one.
Cloud computing has already passed the hot new trend stage and has established itself as a prime IT solution in 2016. According to Cloudworks, 65% of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud technologies before the end of 2016. Will you?
2. Location, Location, Location
Now that your office isn't a warehouse for paper, let's consider redesigning how you do business, shall we?
There are two options, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages.
The Open Office: People like working alongside their leaders who lead by example. The idea of an open space office concept has demonstrated an increase creativity and productivity! The idea of the isolated corner office is practically gone.
The Virtual Office: When you fully utilize computers and tablets that handle your applications and your documents, you can think about dropping all of that brick and mortar space for the virtual office model. In order to make this work, you need to have accountability for your employees.
There are apps that your employees can use on a tablet or computer for video conference meetings, for tracking activity, and for recording results. Some employees might flourish with this newfound freedom, while others may slack off if not held accountable to get the job done well.
Balance your decisions with your business operations and take into account how your culture would react to each scenario.
3. Community rather than customers
When your business operations start running more efficiently in a digital world, then you can start to think about changing the way your business views its profits.
Instead of companies having customers that are segregated, a major shift takes place, whereby companies are creating communities of customers. They use this community platform to beta new products and improve the old.
People feel good when they are understood and connected, that is how loyal community bases are established. Get connected to the Social Media networks, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.
4. Digital Marketing
Fostering a community is how you build a customer base. Creating new products is how you grow the business. Marketing is how you gain new customers. Gone are the days of advertising in the newspaper. Newspapers have lost $40 Billion in advertising revenue since 2000.
Even TV ads are starting to lose their value. More businesses are directing their advertising dollars to digital platforms. If you're not running ultra-specific marketing campaigns, you may be leaving money on the table. Digital marketing is on its way to catch up with conventional ways of marketing, and in order to stay on top of the game, companies should adapt vigorous digital marketing methodologies to stay ahead of their game.
5. Product Offering
The next 2 steps are about edging out your competitors. This step is about adapting your offering for the modern world. There are only 2 types of products that succeed in today's consumer space.
Freemium and Premium: Freemium offers a "free" product or solution to your community in exchange for them following you. With this offering, you are profiting off of the community as a whole rather than selling single products. What does this mean? It means you profit off of having a following by selling ad space to be in front of your community and/or having other companies provide offerings to your community.
Email lists are big in this regard: The other profit needs to come from Premium products. You can only profit from premium products once you have a following that trusts your company and deems you to be credible. Premium products are big ticket items with big profit margins, yet still over-deliver in value for the price paid. Consumers who pay for premium products expect a premium experience. Make it happen. You won't regret it.
6. Expand your reach
If you get to this point, you are probably doing very well. But why settle? The United States is just a small piece of the market. In today's global economy, if you offer products that can tap into China and India, you are reaching a third of the world's population and a greater global footprint.
Do your research in what problems you can solve in other markets and then provide a product that provides the solution. Hire business experts that have experience dealing with China and India and any other markets you want to tap into. Be the beast that competes.
7. Embracing the Internet of Things (IoT)
The more you understand the needs of your market, the more comprehensive your solutions can become. Besides expanding your geographic footprint, pay attention to your economic footprint. What complimentary services or products can your company offer to existing customers?
The Internet of Things (IoT): The majority of companies growing their footprint are running head first into the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging shift in technology towards connecting all of the devices and platforms we use every day; minimizing human involvement by automating daily tasks.
The rate of technological advancement is increasing exponentially, according to this study, by 2020 there will be 50.1 billion connected devices using IOT. Clunky, brick-like mobile phones in the 90's took ten years to become the smartphones of today, with more tech in the palm of your hand than the Apollo Spacecraft used to get to the moon. That's remarkable, considering that the jump from the first landline phone to the mobile phone took more than 100 years.
IoT Increases Workforce Efficiency: For companies, IoT means a more efficient office space, a transition from cubicles to remote workstations and a breaking down of barriers between clients and service reps. Our phones can handle our calendars for us. A simple schedule change can be pushed to an entire team. An iPhone connected to CarPlay can beam an alert on the navigation screen of an employee driving to the office, letting them know of last minute changes. Communication happens at the speed of 0's and 1's flying through hyperspace.
For customers, products can care for themselves. A refrigerator with a failing sensor can use a home's WiFi network to schedule a technician and alert a user that it will be serviced on the following Saturday afternoon. Our smartwatches keep track of how many calories we've burned and remind us to lock the front door when we leave the house.
Generally speaking, people react slowly to change -- there is an inherent natural fear of the unknown.
Successful business people rely on smart, dependable, able people to handle the majority of business -- be sure you are choosing people who can take you to the next level.
Bill Gates and other successful entrepreneurs are known for this approach -- surround yourself with a team that knows what to do and how to do it. Being successful is a result of mutual trust and respect, between you and your team.
Gathering the right people to perform at their very best each time and every time will lead to your success.