“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” ~ Tom Goodwin in TechCrunch, March 2015.
In today’s conceptual age, a whole new way of doing business is emerging – one that revolves primarily around ‘concept development’. Businesses that have been able to identify patterns and opportunities through high concept thinking, and combine seemingly diverse and unrelated pieces to form an interesting new whole, have already begun to witness exponential growth. Traditional ways of operating are giving way to newer innovative concepts that are now being woven into different facets of a business.
Driven by the blistering pace of technology advancement, the digital transformation of businesses is a reality in today’s conceptual age. This transformation isn’t just about consuming more technology, but about using technology as a competitive edge to create value for an organization’s end customers, while empowering its people and partners. As businesses head towards a digital revolution – their core functions, revenue models, cultures, and people must become digital, too. In this post, we consider the changes at the horizon for businesses in today’s conceptual era.
The Sales & Marketing function of an organization is undergoing transformational change, in direct response to the fact that today’s consumer is more empowered and demanding than ever before – with an abundance of choices, and quick and easy access to information. The traditional sales model – focused on “selling products and services”, has given way to one that focuses on increasing customer productivity. The role of the modern salesperson is to build and maintain long-term relationships with customers, while focusing attention on the needs and issues of customers, rather than making a traditional pitch of the product/service to be sold. The Marketing function of an organization has also undergone a paradigm shift – from aggressive outbound marketing via direct mail, cold calls, banner ads, radio and television ads, etc., to an inbound marketing model that attempts to “pull in” prospective customers by providing valuable information and driving engagement with them across digital channels, thereby enabling a two-way dialogue between businesses and its prospective customers. A customer-centric approach drives the sales and marketing strategy of businesses in today’s digital era.
The evolution of the Internet has had profound implications on the way we do business – with each new Internet wave re-inventing traditional business models, while also creating new digital revenue models. Popular models behind some of the most successful businesses today include Digital advertising, E-commerce, Freemium and Subscription-based models, and Affiliate Marketing, among others. As digital revenue models continue to evolve and interesting variations emerge, businesses may combine several different models as part of their overall strategy.
As businesses in the digital age continue to make investments in tools and technologies to keep up with the blistering pace of change – their workforces are also required to rapidly adapt to a constantly changing environment, while being enabled by technology. Forward-thinking businesses have recognized that an agile or ‘liquid workforce’ is mission critical to stay relevant in the midst of a digital revolution. To ensure employees constantly develop new skills to meet changing goals, companies are embracing a culture of continuous learning and development (L&D) enabled by digital learning platforms – while aligning their workforce talent to overall corporate strategy.
An interesting trend to note in regard to workforce demography is that in 2015, millennials became the largest share of the workforce in the US, and by 2025, that number will go up to 76% globally. (Source: Pew Research Center). By far, this digital native and well-educated generation has a strong affinity for technology and can be leveraged by companies as catalysts of change to support a digital culture.
Technology innovations are also poised to reshape the finance function of an organization. According to multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY), technology will play an increasingly significant role in executing many traditional finance tasks while at the same time generating greater insight. The traditional finance function is evolving from a mere reporting function that focused on balancing the books, to a data-driven decision-center. Many activities in the traditional finance function can be automated or managed in shared services centers, fundamentally changing finance leader roles, an EY survey indicated.
Technology underpins the world of changing business paradigms – with the potential to drive innovation across all aspects of businesses today, and help them accomplish more. In addition to harnessing the potential of technology innovations, businesses will need to embody a new mindset to compete and thrive in the Conceptual age – emphasizing on creative problem solving and a different way of thinking.
Stay tuned to our next post, where we discuss technology as a catalyst for the digital age.