Yoda says Do. Or do not. There is no try to Industries


Yoda says “Do. Or do not. There is no try” to Industries inspiring action for transformation. I’ve written the core of this Ericsson article in 2015, but now I add to it new information. It is still relevant since on-going Industries’ Transformation is hitting hard old models.

Business owners question why they see decreasing outcomes. They sometimes blame it to the post-recession, or worse, to the internet “that’s consuming our business”. In my humble view, the only blame to point at, is if your company stays the same, grounded to old ways.

The metaphor of Star Wars

As a huge fan of Star Wars, I cannot let the opportunity go without using the film as an analogy in today’s digital era, economy, and markets. Whether you agree or not, sci-fi evolution is almost our reality. I’m not suggesting that we encounter people with pointy ears, or that we enjoy drinks in Mos Eisley’s cantina, or that we take on battle stars and enemies in outer space.

What I’m saying is that many product developments, which fall in the big futuristic domains of Big Data, Internet of Things, and A.I, are already happening and can spark the imagination for new business models for the existing and new business owners.

From Star Wars’ inspired robots, like the Sphero (a standing 4½ inches tall miniature, responding to your Bluetooth device or your own voice!), or the QRoss rolled in its spherical shell, to the mobile refrigerator R2-D2, up to the command centre’s connected officer from Cloud City? Boy, oh, boy! Star Wars overflows with important themes and lessons we can translate and use in real life. Seems to be the model for the future: low-emissions, sustainable, connected, technology for all, managed and distributed production, efficient urbanization. Ok, you always have the bad guys, but the right side of the force always wins, right?

What is going on in the real world?

You hear and read so many innovations, so many disrupting news, new solutions that you can’t keep up with. Smart, connected products are radically transforming industries, models, companies, operations and organizational structures. Foreign languages learning app? What will happen to the segment of house-offered lessons? Cloud distribution of pharmaceuticals? What will happen to the intermediaries? Chat-bots serving customers and support? Are these embraced fast by every CEO, CIO, and CMOs? I’m not sure they are.

What I’m really getting at is that while great technologies – either commercialized or in experimental stages (but already in low entry costs) – appear every day, many industries and enterprises remain resistant to this positive and sustainable change, or at least complacent with their routine.

McKinsey reports that 64% of European and the Middle East enterprises haven’t adopted technology solutions. I know the excuse, “we’re into the food business”, “we’re traditional trusted retailers”. Yes and yes! But these are excuses, that can’t save time and energy for the business.

The pace of change is as fast as it will ever be, and as Master Yoda said in training the young Jedi “Do. Or do not. There is no try”. “There is no try” when transforming your business with broadband, mobile, and cloud solutions in logistics, tourism, music, health, banking, education, services. “Do or do not” captures the IoT opportunity. The vast majority of the companies that I know and have interactions with, still today don’t have in place co-creation partnerships, advisory customer-panels for product development, tech tools to facilitate customer experience, IT to accelerate new services, production and service synergies between adjustment companies, or integration of services at one touch point.

Who resists Industries’ transformation (your company including…)

The ATKearney 2017 annual survey of global businesses reveals that technology and political risk are the top concerns of executives as they shift their business strategies to succeed in the new global reality (PS: don’t give me the excuse, that these are data for big companies…another excuse?). But implementation is very poor.

You know why? I’ve seen this in the last seven years working globally with many companies: top executives resist in adopting technologies, while they say they endorse them. Industry transformation changes completely their operations (that pleasant routine), asks for a new cost-base, pushes everyone to measure everything, logistics and distribution are out of their ‘comfort zones’ and IT dominates all the service and customer processes.

It seems a combination of old-school practising and the fear of not making internal changes, that will upturn their end-year results. Not to undermine that they don’t have the same competence as younger ‘digital natives’ have, or know-how as the owners that operate in the tech domains (fintech, apps, etc)

You see, technology for many people is a double-edged sword. Business owners focus more on the top-line, trying to save on costs and see technology as a complex proposition. They hear so many new keywords: privacy, cybersecurity, servers, cloud distribution, analytics operations, sales’ leads on our website…

Every time business leaders question their growth figures or the sustainability of their models, without changing anything from their 90’s routine, I hear inside my mind Obi-Wan Kenobi saying: “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.”

Stimuli to discuss and share

While most consumer brands fight for some Facebook attention or a promo to save the day, 2017 is the year that A.I. (artificial intelligence) and data analytics disrupts the fast-moving consumer goods’ industry.

Solutions navigate consumers in an increasingly complex and info-overload world: from advanced electronics applications, to pinpoint analytics that predicts consumer needs as they arise. Consumers now search for curated information in a customized way from blogs, specialists, influencers (influencer marketing now becoming a key brand strategy to cut-through the clutter), Instagram tribes (the people they most trust) that resonates with their lifestyle, interests, and values. Don’t forget that mobile devices will emerge as shoppers’ most valued shopping partner, (US data, 2016) as consumers check for recommendations.

Can you imagine a Brand/Product manager today having a tactical plan for all these?  From the global players up to a national consumer brand?

(source: AMA, AdAge, CMO blogs)

McKinsey reports that the 64% of European and the Middle East enterprises haven’t adopted technology solutions. Imagine the impact in companies’ cost-base, customer services, distribution, and in jobs’ loss.

Examples of Industry transformation, 2017

But industry transformation is not for technology, but using it as a tool for improving and innovating in what you do. Here are some examples:

  • The meat industry:  educated consumers now have increased awareness of transparency in food labeling, the use of antibiotics in meat, the returns in society, the production’s triple-secured quality, if it’s man-produced, where (origin), means of preservation and many other issues. It’s not always technology, but what you do with it.
  • The transport industry: (OK, here we have more tech) automated cars, city systems, cloud-connected prediction services or access to travel and leisure proposals, systems that predict traffic and facilitate programming of vehicles, commuters’ services, increased safety, WiFi in all destinations
  • The agriculture industry: producing new crops like Hemp in the US which like the peanut, it can be used in food and manufacturing(!), the merger of producers to meet global sales networks, the introduction of smart grid, the use of technology to predict environment conditions, apps to reach global marketplaces to see your crop’s price/demand.
  • The food catering industry: internationalization, new skills, and technology now innovate to manage global production and delivery of food to both undeveloped and progressed economies, in new formats and types, securing maximum quality parameters for a catering ready-product to travel from the one end of the world to another – in essence it will transform also lifestyle of food
  • The service industry: Edelman global network reports that customers now demand a service response solution in 1 hour from digital experience centers… only that will give you enough thoughts on change.

These are only a few examples that send a clear signal: changes in company operations, changes in customer services, changes in technology, changes in co-creating new solutions, and in jobs and competence/skills, changes in business partnerships, changes in distribution and delivery systems. If you are not there, you’re out.

If you don’t exploit or re-use, you’re out …and your people with you.

I pray we have more Jedi’s

In our real world, we do have a few remaining Jedi (some academics, startup owners, developers, and designers). They fight and preach change on their own and try every day to strike to the Empire of complacency’s galactic spaceships (company owners’ metaphor). But many Darth Vader out there, keep on repeating an old-school routine and you even hear them say “I find your lack of faith (in the old ways) disturbing.”

So, I’m proposing to all young talented digital disruption Jedis, to start using in their pitches the intro line “I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you.” May the Force be with you change-makers, so we can live in a better, efficient, effective world.

Deep inside, I really hope that someone starts educating massively the business community, without spamming them with offers and promotions. If the 40-55 years’ old business owners don’t help (first themselves) transform their companies, many more jobs will be lost and many more financial impacts will burden our economies.

We don’t want this, right?

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