Wednesday, July 05, 2017 / Perth Australia / By Niekie Jooste
In this edition of "The WelderDestiny Compass":
One of the central messages we would like to bring to all skilled professional for the future is that we need to start thinking of ourselves as a business rather than an employee. In much the same way as the "gig economy" is unfolding at the moment, so professionals will be selling their services to clients in the future. Most of us will be "solopreneurs" or small businesses.
Within this model of future work, we have looked at what skills we should be cultivating to not only stay relevant during the rise of the machines, but also how we could thrive. Within this spirit of pro-actively embracing the future, we will today look at what could possibly give us an edge over other businesses that we will be competing against.
The short answer is being customer centric. There is more to this statement than we may think.
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Now let's get stuck into this week’s topics...
In the last decade we have seen the rise of many technology centric businesses. Their rise disrupted their industries and changed their markets.
Online shopping businesses such as Amazon have resulted in the closure of many bricks and mortar retail businesses. Online video streaming has resulted in the demise of video rental businesses. Ride sharing has disrupted the business model of the taxi industry. We can keep on giving examples, but I am sure you get the idea.
In short, existing businesses fear the disruption that technology brings to their business models.
If most of us are going to be small businesses in the future, we may fear that future technology will also disrupt our businesses. While new technology might give us an edge initially, we also fear that further (unknown) technological advances will in turn make our businesses irrelevant.
This fear of the unknown is understandable, but is there a strategy to deal with this dynamic?
Technology for technology's sake does not lead to success. Technology only works if it gives you an edge in your market. That edge will only be realised if it leads to benefits for your customers. The benefits to your customers could be in any number of ways.
Lower price is obvious, but improved reliability and quality can be even more appealing. What about reduced operational or project schedule risk for a corporate customer? There are many ways to increase the benefits of your product or service to your customer.
In short then, if technology results in a better deal for your customer, then that technology will be supported by your customers in terms of you receiving more orders.
If we think about this logic, then we start to see that our real fear is actually not that some technology will disrupt us, but that a competitor will give our customers a better deal than we are. When we think about the markets in this way, the solution for small businesses starts being a lot simpler than we might have imagined.
The simple answer is: Be customer centric!
Always be on the lookout for how you could improve the deal you are giving your customers. This means that you should constantly be on the lookout for new technology that could improve your product or service offering. That technology could be a new welding process or equipment that improves productivity, or an on-line system that reduces your customer's risk.
Yes, it could even be the introduction of artificial intelligence or robotic technology that improves quality or reduces risk to your corporate clients.
If your competitor is adopting some new technology, instead of fearing the move, see if it will also improve the lives of your customers. If new technology is of benefit to your customers, then embrace it.
If we look back at the list of industries that were negatively affected by technology, we see that a lack of customer focus on the part of those operators were largely the reason why the "market gap" existed for the disruption in the first place. How many retail businesses treat their customers poorly and try to rip them off? How often did we get a bad deal from video rental companies with their excessive late return penalties? How often were we in taxis where the drivers were rude and drove like maniacs, and then charged us an arm and a leg for the trip?
Being so comfortable that our business is no longer customer centric, is a sure fire way to be disrupted and made non-relevant.
If your focus is on being customer centric, then success will surely follow.
Yours in welding
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