Organisations need to reinvent, now: As technology improves, companies will be forced to adapt, change or die

January 25, 2021 7:15 AM

The world is changing at a very fast pace; innovation must be a regular function in any organisation. The ability of both stimulates and harnesses human imagination.

It’s a perpetual fact that all businesses, even the most successful ones, slack.It’s a perpetual fact that all businesses, even the most successful ones, slack.

By Vidya Hattangadi

To reinvent something means to change it so that it seems different and new; to redo, to remake completely.

The year 2020 will be remembered in history for a long time. Until February, most companies were busy planning their long-term business strategies, busy setting ambitious growth targets, strategising their value chains and adding new products to their portfolios. However, an unpredicted calamity, Covid-19, brought the entire world to a standstill. The sudden event forced governments and organisations to hit a pause and reset button. While uncertainty prevails over what the future would lead to, what is clear is that it would be starkly different from the world we have known. Even as the vaccine is being made available to counter the virus, the requirements of social distancing, wearing masks, connecting socially online, in short the need for restricted movement, will continue.

We have seen a tremendous shift in the mindset of people. Although physical distancing is forced upon us and we are connected electronically, the need to stay relevant is all the more important. And this is a major transformation. Organisations are preparing for the new normal by changing their core organisational hierarchies, structure and their operation. While work from home has become the new normal, organisations have invented functional strategies to make distant working and remote client servicing a reality. It’s amazing to note that many small, medium and large organisations have quickly reconfigured their product and services offerings, and have transformed their business models. Remote working is further expanding the scope of remote access to everything and greater security against cybercrimes.

With the ongoing upheaval, many organisations have seen opportunities and are reinventing themselves to rise over Covid19. Electronic gadgets are ruling our lives like never before. We are forced to keep with a lot of technology shifts and companies have had to evolve along with them. Companies that have survived are the ones that know this important lesson of listening to the customer always. The print industry has been one of the most affected industries since the technological boom. Many newspapers and magazines have either closed shop or have turned digital. National Geographic, however, has embraced technology—its magazine is still in print and the brand has millions of loyal Instagram, Twitter and Facebook followers, both for its account and its photographers’ accounts. Specifically, National Geographic has over 65 million followers. It realised that to stay firmly planted in its print ways would have killed its business. So, it went where its customers are, which is online.

Another great example is Netflix. It has primarily changed the way television is consumed. Netflix is in true sense the catalyst that drove the shift towards over-the-top (OTT) television, helping pave way for many other OTT platforms. People want to watch whatever, whenever and wherever. Netflix experienced a lot of hiccups. Its original business model was subscription-based, where people could rent as many movies as they wanted, keep these as long as they wanted, and trade these in for new ones after mailing these back. Netflix included streaming video, which even further encouraged its popularity. But, in 2011, when it split into two companies—Netflix and Qwikster—its spin-off continued delivering only DVDs by mail and increased its prices, and people were put off. Netflix quickly realised its mistake, and reverted to providing both digitally streaming videos and DVD-by-mail under one roof, and under one bill. The message is: Give the customer what she wants.

It’s a perpetual fact that all businesses, even the most successful ones, slack. They lose their hold in the market when they start stagnating. Organisations are compelled to reinvent themselves periodically. What matters is their ability to pull off from a decline stage of business and jump back at the growth stage. Organisations, therefore, have to be very adaptable. The world is changing at a very fast pace; innovation must be a regular function in any organisation. The ability of both stimulates and harnesses human imagination.

Domino’s had to make drastic changes; they considered their core competence in fast delivery—pizza in 30 minutes or less. If they delayed the delivery, the pizza would be given free. Domino’s was less concerned about taste or quality; but as people started debating on the social media, Domino’s realised the gravity of the issue. People were condemning its pizza quality, leading to fewer orders and tremendous financial repercussions. Domino’s took action. Taking to the wave, it made an enormous announcement: ‘We hear you, our pizzas suck, and we promise to improve them.’ They improved their pizza quality. Domino’s rolled out its new campaign and a new recipe, and sales skyrocketed. Companies need to absorb all tip-offs thrown by their customers time and again.

A few years down the line, many organisations will restyle jobs, enabling their employees to work alongside smart machines, robots, and new forms of technology. Already, robots have entered the households, and are cleaning, mopping, cutting and chopping. Organisational leaders must start rethinking their plans. For the past century, organisations consisted of jobs, the job profiles were designed to match specified outputs, and work methods were devised for performing jobs. But many current jobs are absurd in nature, they don’t sound normal in nature, they demand unrealistic workloads which leave many job hunters shaking heads in disbelief.

I conclude that as technology continues to improve, companies will be forced to adapt, change or die. They need to remain customer-centric. Big or small, all organisations need to be ready to roll out products and services as per the demand of their customers. Change is inevitable; therefore, reinventing from time to time is a necessity.

The author is a management thinker and blogger

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