The times we are all navigating through are brutally devastating. The death toll across the globe is tragic, and the human suffering through this pandemic will remain long past its eradication. I am writing this article for the millions of business leaders who are being tested like never before. It is my effort to help them pass the test and prepare for the next one.
"Through candid conversations, new realities can blossom."
Well, I guess Amazon is finally off the hook as the pandemic is now the blame for not only retail's downfall but all those who procrastinated their continuous relevance.
In business, there must no longer be stubbornness to maintain status-quo, regardless of how temporally comfortable it is. Especially when logic has and continues screaming, the time for change is now.
We have all witnessed brink and mortar retailers, and others fade away over the last two decades. JC Penny's looming collapse and other retailers who find themselves struggling immensely during this lockdown are not victims of a virus any more than our friends at Sears were.
"Perceived stability is one of the greatest threats to an organization's willingness to innovate."
Yes, this bastard of a Pandemic will cause businesses to fail, and many without fault of their own outside the apparent lack of liquidity most companies today find themselves in. However, for many others, the prognosis of their failure was determined unconditional of the pandemic.
"Business disruptions are more about the innovators changing the means to the customer's desired outcome, rather than those creating new products for customers to desire."
It seems some are suggesting this current pandemic is also the blame for holding leaders in the status quo over the last decade, prevented leaders from modifying as needed based on changing market realities, and caused business leaders to spend all their liquidity, ignoring any thoughts of a rainy day.
Well, it's raining, and now business leaders must eliminate any indecisiveness or in-action to all they know needs modification to create a new relevance. This pandemic is, in fact, for many businesses, their Blockbuster/Netflix Moment.
Even now, with the apparent shifts in the marketplace, we are observing first-hand. Some organizations are still defying logic over a false sense of their pre-virus perceived relevance returning. The digitalization of the business world is now the greatest threat to many leaders, organizations, and entire industries. Those who ignore these digitalization threats to outdated processes will find themselves added to the list of fallen empires.
"During disruptions, many will fight for comfort, leaving opportunities open for those who fight for relevance."
Now is the time to cast aside all that is status quo to yesterday's comfort, it's time to stare into the new future, and create a new normal from what you see. Otherwise, it will prove to be your time to fall victim to a new normal others created.
Over the last couple of decades, many industries have held stubbornly to their past. During that time, innovative organizations such as Amazon were creating a new normal for retail. As Amazon challenged the status quo with what could be, the status quo ignored, those new realities Amazon created.
"Market-shifts always start as arguments between the old and the innovative way; survivors are the aftermath of the customer's choice."
During this pandemic, some are still arguing the merits of their outdated relevance. Customers decide what's relevant; customers determine the price they will pay for one's added value. Unfortunately, many organizations are out of alignment in the perception of their added value with those they serve.
Some organizations still seem convinced that their need to provide customers access through a digital means is not warranted. This lack of digital intelligence defies logic, and those who maintain this belief are their own worse enemies.
Today, "One's digital intelligence, is quickly becoming the measurement of common sense."
Over the last few years, I have been vocal about the need for all those organizations that provide products and services to get themselves in sync with digital market realities and align their expectations of value with those they serve around those realities.
Many organizations and industries have wasted a decade arguing the merits of outdated value adds. It seems for some their belief that relationships and in-person engagement would always be preferred over digital disruptors, even as Amazon and other digital disruptors continued to destroy those stuck in the status quo.
It appears people think that digitalization omits relationships. I would say it complements relationships by delivering better experiences. As people receive great experiences in reaching their desired outcomes through digital platforms, they will create a relationship with the digital process.
Most legacy organizations cannot accept that customer experience is a greater value than customer relationships. This misunderstanding continues to defeat these legacy organizations as they continue to believe their outdated relationship will win against the innovator's better experience.
As I witnessed organizations and industries losing their battle for continued relevance, I realized these three things.
1)"You can be the organization with the greatest relationships in the world and lose to the innovator who delivers a better experience."
2)"Customer experience is being measured more and more in the intersection between the digital and physical worlds."
3)"A company becomes obsolete when it focuses on delivering the past to the future instead of delivering the future to the present."
As businesses begin opening again post-virus, they must pay attention to the customers they serve. All pre-virus stubbornness must be left in quarantine. In the post virus world, it is no longer feasible to disregard the realities of the advances in technologies. Those who do this, please don't blame Amazon or other innovators for your failure; instead, blame your stubbornness.
For many industries the time is now to modify your deliverable to meet the new market realities. Nearly all business models will be challenged as they create their new normal. Those who accept the challenge of a new relevance will prevail.
Caution! Status Quo will fight for survival!
Don't be fooled by a temporary success in sameness as the quarantine ends; customers may temporally proceed as they did pre-virus. However, this will not last as the new disruptors will align to offer the old way's customers a better experience. Innovators watched and noted the many outdated processes the pandemic brought to life.
As you vision your business post-pandemic, you must imagine from the new realities observed what could be based on what should be—keeping in mind that your per-virus customers are also re-imaging their visions. Most importantly, don't discount a competitor educating your customers' in a better way.
"As a business insists on selling based on yesterday's outdated value, they will lose the customers who bought based on today's realities."
Today's new realities are being observed and continuously created, and that was also true yesterday and the weeks, months, and years before the pandemic. Everyone in business and even as individuals must use the shock of this pandemic to cause a motivation, a motivation to ensure we maintain enough liquidity, and never again defy, misinterpret, or take for granted the tenure and comfort of current circumstances. In business and life, ongoing relevancy takes both the ability to compromise and sacrifice.
"Status Quo is the Killer of all that will be Invented; don't get stuck in Status Quo."
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We have all watched our share of post-apocalypse movies. However, not too many saw themselves being chased by Zombies.
The battle for the customer will be fought viciously by what I describe as "Zombie Companies." "A Zombie Company" is one in which its leaders continue attempting to deliver goods and services through DEAD concepts. In other words, organizations who fight against today's new market realities in hopes of lengthening the tenure of yesterday's relevance.
This pandemic was an Evolutionary Event for many industries and their customers. So, how affected industries navigate through the changing landscape will determine if their per-virus customers will join them on the post-virus journey.
As we saw in the Walking Dead, there will be those who herd around a dead complacency, and those who will fight for a relevant future.
Those industries which are presented a new normal must avoid at all cost bringing back to life what was defeated through the pandemic. The SMB customers have moved ahead in their digitalization processes by years.
This digital transformation will cause things to fade and bring birth to innovative solutions. Technology end-users will evaluate all technology spend and re-appropriate budgets to align with the new realities.
During the period of those things fading, it will take bold leaders to pivot their organizations in-order to intersect with their customers as to journey together on the new road towards the future. Keep in mind that innovation is about process improvements. Organizations that truly understand the outcome their customers are buying are better positioned in adjusting to a relevant process, or means to that outcome.
Remember, customers don't buy relationships; they purchase desired outcomes. This misunderstanding will cause many organizations to lose their great relationship to those innovators who deliver the customer's desired outcome through a better experience.
All organizations from all industries must re-evaluate their past relevance, relationships, and customer experiences. How past great relationship feed customer experiences pre-virus may very well be challenged post-virus. The best time for weeding out complacency is now. Those industries and their customers who are affected by new normals must defeat the Zombie Companies and Zombie Leaders.
So, as you look at your industry and your customers, be open-minded to the needed modifications. Don't cause your end-users to invest unwisely with you. Those who do will not be forgiven as end-users continue gaining awareness.
"Products and services will, in fact, become obsolete or less desirable. However, people themselves have to choose to become obsolete."
Regardless of your industry, as you emerge, the great lockdown focus on the desired outcome your industry or organizations end-users receive. Then with imagination based on new realities, re-align your processes and deliver your customers the most incredible experience ever.
For my friends in the Imaging Channel who sell and service print equipment and its services, you must decide whether to become a zombie or a fighter for a future relevance.
When I started the A4Revolution, it was a battle for the end-users a campaign based on data and my vision of what could be based on what should be. The industry must now admit that not only are customers becoming aware of their over-sold situation. So, are the new competitors who intend to challenge many of your great relationships with a better experience.
Post-Pandemic, there are no more acceptable excuses for any Printer Manufacturer or the Dealers who represent them to maintain any past stubbornness to continue doing what goes against the channel's end-user's market realities.
For myself, I intend to whip Zombies off the map. Who wants to join the Zombie hut, I call, The A4Revolution.
"Status Quo is the Killer of all that will be invented."