he beauty of welcoming the new year is the general acceptance that as individuals or entities we have an opportunity to review and somewhat admit to our shortcomings on what worked and our failures thereof in the previous year. Companies traditionally hold end of year strategy review sessions where they dissect on what they did best and where they sucked, and as individuals it’s the ritual new year new me resolutions we have grown accustomed to. In the piece however, I want to focus on how corporate entities need to approach the year 2016 and more specifically from a philosophical point of view.
There’s a famed article by one of the management gurus of the 19th century, Peter Drucker in which he articulated how companies needed to move away from strategic planning to strategic thinking as being the ideal and effectual way of evaluating and mapping business goals. Borrowing from the same train of thought, businesses in Africa in 2016 need to undergo an ideological shift, not paradigm! Okay paradigm shift in their approach to doing business. Paradigm shift, a very colloquial term I’m trying to run away from simply states that we need to change our mindset and have a complete departure from our previous “school of thought”. I would like to make a bold claim that most of our local businesses need an ideological reorientation, a complete departure from old ways of thinking into a new dimension that is consistent with the technological trends and vagaries in consumer tastes and preferences. Back in college we learnt about how organizational philosophies have changed over the years since Ford designed the first automobile and we had the production philosophy which later changed to sales, marketing, quality you name it. Now we are in a dispensation which I would like to call the digital philosophy, where all things are digital and digital analytics at the heart of it. Again this is a philosophy for which I want to premise my thoughts on. The question we need to ask ourselves this year is not what did we do right or wrong but rather are we doing the right things, are our actions consistent with the technological trends and the changes in our customers.
This year, do not change your strategy but rather change the way you think, undergo a philosophical change or more concisely an ideological change. The world has gone digital, customers have gone digital and do not be stuck in the stone age, it’s time to embrace digital and to embrace it from an ideological, philosophical perspective rather than strategic. The difference between the two is that, deciding to go digital through enabling sales via the website is strategic, which is good but it’s limited, an ideological perspective looks beyond the website, but rather how can we digitalize the way we do business. I want to challenge you to rise to this level of thinking where you see social media, point of sales, distribution network, customer service and marketing as an integrated holistic unit which can be harnessed to serve customers better and in turn improve bottom line. This way of thinking is beyond strategic, it’s revolutionary and not evolutionary, and it’s looking at the entity from a higher perspective where you “step out” and view from what I call, “a view from the terraces”.
Digitalizing your business has numerous distinct advantages the first one being, customer data can be gathered, stored, analyzed, evaluated and converted into intelligence is near or real time. The digital world is all about data, how much do you know in simple terms and he that knoweth the most rules. Google one of the biggest companies in the world business model is based on data, they know and collect your online behavioral patterns and data and thus they sell this information to advertisers. Any company that has an efficient and robust data management system is destined to be a perpetual success and if a business is digitalized, data is collected and effortlessly converted into customer intelligence thus carving out a competitive edge over competition. Imagine all the data which your sales agents, marketing and IT has and its all fragmented with little use being made of it. Think about what you could do if there’s real time collection and monitoring of customer data! Food for thought.
Data analytics is at the heart of the digital philosophy; your ability to convert data into intelligence will set your company apart from competition. If you know the intricate details of your customers, remarketing for repeat purchases becomes easy. If you’ve in-depth knowledge of competition then strategy formulation becomes an easier process, and all this is made effortless by having a data centric robust system which stems out of the digital philosophy.
So there you have it, the year is in its infancy and there’s plenty of time to embrace THE new way of thinking. There’s a lot more I can share about how to digitalize, how to start etc but the first thing is to buy into this new way of thinking and see how this philosophy can be applied to your business. The shift to this new way of thinking is not a stroll as sometimes there’s need to review your current personnel; with all due respect, it is enormously difficult to expect a CEO in his 70s and with 20 years in the position to usher in this new dynamic way of thinking.
These are just my random thoughts and let’s discuss more, send in your comments and let’s dissect this pertinent topic.