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Disruption is central to the business world. It’s how Netflix supplanted Blockbuster as the go-to way to watch movies in your own home. It’s why brands such as Kodak no longer exist, while SaaS offerings are becoming ever more prevalent.
If you operate in an “old-school” industry that is historically slow to change, you may not have yet seen new tech disrupt your business operations. But, if there is one thing that has remained constant in the business world, it is that change and disruption can occur in seemingly unlikely places.
If you want your brand to stand the test of time, you must learn how to effectively inject change into your company. For greater insight on this, I recently interviewed Junaid Shams, co-founder and CEO of Rooam, an app that allows restaurant and bar patrons to pay their check directly from their phone. As Rooam itself illustrates, change is possible everywhere …
Here’s how you can make it happen, yourself:
Understand Consumer Needs
“At the end of the day, your goal as a business should always be to make things easier for your end consumer,” Shams explains. “Their needs and the way they interact with the world aren’t static. As new technology comes along, these things change. If you operate under the assumption that your target market’s behaviors are the same as they were 10 years ago, you will get left behind.”
One need only look at the way consumers shop from home to see this idea in action. According to Money Magazine, the year 1994 saw American customers spend $60 billion on “purchases from home.” The method for placing these orders? Over the phone, after receiving a mail catalogue or watching a TV ad — the internet was still in its infancy.
In comparison, e-commerce sales in 2018 exceeded $504 billion.
By considering how your target audience’s habits have changed, you can alter your delivery and advertising methods — or even your products and services — to position your brand in a place where you can reach them.
One way to inject change into your brand is to consider how to better incorporate today’s technology. “The basic idea of running a tab at a bar doesn’t necessarily change by using our app,” Shams explains.
“But what does change is that consumers suddenly have the ability to keep track of their tab and pay directly from their phone the second that they are ready to leave. We integrate with the establishment’s point-of-sale system and connect them with the customer’s mobile device, creating a more streamlined experience.”
When considering ways to shake up your business, start by focusing on how you can use technology to find new, better ways to serve your customers. Utilizing methods to better integrate your products or services with the technology we use every day will make it that much easier to reach your target audience.
Learn From ‘Up-and-Comers’
“A big problem that often occurs with well-established businesses is they get caught in a rut,” Shams says. “They have the same leadership that was there 20 years ago, and because things seem to be going fine, they don’t see any need for change. This stifles innovation and makes it all too easy for another brand to swoop in, disrupt the industry, and leave the competition behind.”
Because of this, CEOs must be willing to recognize that many of the best ideas for change will come from the bottom; not the top. As Jeanine Prime of the Harvard Business Review notes, “Too often leaders are focused on swaying others and ‘winning’ arguments. When people debate in this way, they become so focused on proving the validity of their own views that they miss out on the opportunity to learn about other points of view.”
Continues Prime, “Inclusive leaders are humble enough to suspend their own agendas and beliefs. In so doing, they not only enhance their own learning but they validate followers’ unique perspectives.”
Look to others in your organization for fresh ideas and opinions on how you can update your business for the modern age. A collaborative effort will likely yield far better results.
Shake Up the Workplace
The way you interact with your customers isn’t the only way you can bring about change. Take a look at your company culture. If your management model is stuck in the 1970s, highly micromanaged, with a rigid focus on dress code, time clocks, and the like, your employees may feel overworked and undervalued.
“The best thing you can do for the future of your business is create a culture where employees feel like their contributions matter,” says Shams. “You don’t have to be operating in the most exciting industry in the world. If you create the right work environment, you’ll get the right people who will build a foundation for future success.”
Studies have found a wide range of benefits that stem from happy employees, such as increased customer loyalty, greater productivity and even an increase in company stock value. Quite often, updating internal practices and policies will be the best place to start as you look for ways to improve your company’s outcomes.
Injecting change into a decidedly “old-school” industry can be hard — just like getting customers excited about a “boring” brand. But hard doesn’t mean impossible. As these insights reveal, looking for opportunities to incite change will give your brand a new energy that allows you to better meet the needs of today’s customers.