Disclaimer - So, I have no stats for you in this blog – just a shower of thoughts and opinions. Please don’t judge. Or, maybe do, and share your thoughts. Views are personal! An 8 minutes read only – last paragraph is the best!
I have always felt Wednesday is a high-power day. It is mid-week – weekend inertia is already gone – all pending mails cleared – work plan already outlined – all-in-all work is in full-bloom. At least, that’s the case for me. But you know how it feels when your plans are in place, and you decide, or rather I’d say, you are tempted to digress – do a little bit of reading here and there (print and digital included), and then you get glued. Pages after pages, news after news, there are uncertainties stacked everywhere, both explicitly in the articles and between the lines. These are some of the news that I came across today:
……….Exporters losing margins due to rupee appreciation against dollar
……….In the next 3 years, over 1 million jobs is likely to be at risk, due to automation
……….Visa restrictions coming to play in the US, UK, and Singapore
……….Toshiba, a 142-year old conglomerate is running at billion dollars of losses
………..Fingerprint sensor on the phone is not safe
………..Accenture is the benchmark that Indian IT services could emulate
Wow, it is a tough world out there. Plus the sensationalized headlines make it even scarier. So, the deal is that the world is moving at a fast pace – markets are getting tougher – margins are shrinking – the boon for one industry becomes the bane for another – automation threatening jobs – digital technologies and artificial intelligence becoming pervasive. I will really not get into environmental crisis, political diplomacy, population, and poverty – because they have always been there, and requires a slightly different lens to comment on.
If you as a business have been thinking about innovation, this might be the right time to think harder! I am no Economist, or a business leader – just an industry analyst – groomed by closely and silently watching companies, competitiveness, trends and business environments. 7+ years in the industry, I can tell you that it is pretty simple – doing a SWOT, PORTER’s, identifying opportunities/challenges, market numbers, even giving recommendations. But the markets have become so clouded – no one has the next 6-months view. There are just speculations – some negative, some positive, and most in the air!
In this environment, I will simply recommend the below 5-step approach, uniquely tailored for your organization.
EVALUATE, INNOVATE, BACK-UP, COLLABORATE, DEPLOY – and repeat the cycle
EVALUATE - You have to innovate, but what you should not do is blindly emulate. Spend time in evaluation
Just because company X is in an acquisition spree, you don’t have to, unless you have evaluated your business well, and acquisition seems most pragmatic.
Similarly, just because one company has succeeded in their digital strategy by a particular means, you don’t have to copy. Again, you can evaluate that as a case study, since your company is not the same as the other.
It is important to overcome the temptation of jumping on bandwagons. You know you have to digitally transform, and you gotta do it fast – the answer is not copy – the answer is putting in more effort in looking inwards – capabilities, possibilities and likely outcome. Get your business model right. It is ok if you don’t come in the news. Be assured, you will make news once your revenues talk on your behalf.
INNOVATE - Pick your brains, and the brains around you!
Now, we all are reading news on rupee appreciation on dollar, and how it is impacting margins. Guess what? Innovate! I am not sure what is best for your organization, but what I am sure is there are always multiple lens to view a problem and there are multiple solutions to a problem. Can you bundle your product with services to increase margins? Can you look into other geographies? You have to look both inwards and outwards for an answer. Talk to your employees, talk to your peers, talk to your competition, and above all collaborate. If there is a common problem that’s bugging the entire sector, even a pre-competitive collaboration becomes helpful. Like Indian IT services joining hands over the visa issue, or pharma companies joining hands on cancer research. Makes sense?
BACK-UP PLANS – so you don’t worry if this fails, because you also have that one
There was some report talking about innovation – saying that software innovation is taking over product innovation, and an electronics and software company was above an automobile manufacturer for innovation. My take is this – software and technology is the latest disrupter, but let us not dwell only on one aspect. The world’s greatest infrastructures – the multi-stored buildings, the hyperloops, the solar technologies, renewable energies – will need more than just software engineers. This takes me to the next thought that Innovation is the biggest strategic agenda, and a company needs to have multiple innovative programs running simultaneously – some incremental, and some disruptive, so that there is a back-up plan always in place. If one fails, there is always another. So try to be futuristic while capitalizing on a current trend.
BE CYBER-SECURED – the most important
Today, the world is all about digitization. Everything is getting online. This is likely to backfire, you know it, right? Have you forgotten ‘Die Hard 4’, where cyber terrorists hack into government and commercial computers, to start a fire sale of financial assets? Everything gets stalled, from country's transportation and telecommunications to financial and utilities infrastructure systems. I don’t mean to scare you, but cyber attacks are lurking everywhere, so if you are thinking of hiring a ‘Chief Digital Officer’, see if you need a ‘Chief Security Officer’ also. Remember, digital is incomplete without cyber security.
COLLABORATE – the winning streak
I follow this principle, or atleast I try to - “When you move your focus from competition to contribution life becomes a celebration. Never try to defeat people, just win their hearts.”
And if you want to truly contribute, you can’t do it alone. You have to COLLABORATE. Collaborate with your employees, collaborate with external stakeholders. And the best part is this – when the collaboration is for the sake of contribution, everybody wins in the end. It is philosophical, and you may want to humbug it right away. But I can tell you this – I have successfully applied this principle in my life and success has always been guaranteed. Example, as a business leader, try to involve employees in your big picture agenda of digital transformation. It applies to employees as well. I hear of employees cribbing about their jobs, and working hours. If you truly contribute to your company, not just to get your salary at the end of the month, but to help your organization win, time will never matter.
And last but not the least, you deploy, check progress and repeat the process. I know it is easier said than done, but we as businesses tend to overlook these basic things and start fretting about news headlines. It is important to be aware and react to industry challenges, but don’t become hasty and deploy something just for the sake of it.
Get up from your seat - have a cup of strong tea, or whatever is your devil - smile at the computer and say ‘Bring it on – I can sort this out’.
Happy Wednesday, and Take Care!