Monday, April 11, 2016

What has better value for Enterprises ? Research or Experience

The group collectively had over 300 years of experience represented at the table; the middle-aged (no one wants to be called old) C-level executives across companies of various sizes, geographies and industries were locked into a debate; a debate on how their experience represented higher value in comparison to reports published by market, vertical or horizontal research companies. Their demeanor trivializing insights presented in reports even when backed by empirical data captured through interactions with leaders like themselves.

Triggered by a much publicized research report which the middle management had embraced, the team had got together to assess its relevance to their company and themselves. Pedigree of the organization behind the report could not be faulted; the industry had taken the paper in question with open arms, benchmarking themselves with the mean and take lessons which they could apply. There were also companies who smirked at the postulations and deemed the report irrelevant to themselves, unwilling to take heed.

None present had participated directly though their teams had contributed to the industry wide research report; distributed evenly were people who had read the report and those who had not. Those who read it wanted to defend their stance wherever it differed from the report; those who did not read believed that it did not matter since they have been the doyens of the industry for many decades now and their experience cannot be questioned if at all by any report irrespective of who wrote it or what others believed.

Thus the meeting of the unconverted and fence-sitters called upon the authors to discuss the artefacts and inferences wanting to assert their individual and collective experience. The group demanded and received reverence by virtue of their clout and influence; they were the beacons for the industry, they were the captains, they had built the industry in the early days, they had coached and mentored many in the industry; some in the group had now become a pain with many clearly depicting Jurassic behavior.

The Analyst of no less years behind him faced the eclectic group along with his team of enthusiastic, young and nervous faces overawed in their presence. He had no lesser persona which the group acknowledged as he reciprocated warmth and respect. Having presented the report to many industry forums and companies, advising them on specifics, the Analyst exuded confidence and conviction. He was ready to engage the group to address their alternative views. Quickly thereafter the weapons were out and the debate started.

The future belongs to a new way of engaging customers at their terms through interconnected channels seamlessly; disintermediation is not the end, it is the beginning. Products and Services are intertwined to create new offerings not possible earlier, keep embracing change, keep adapting, keep learning, and keep running to stay relevant. Conventional wisdom is not enough, you need to straddle the old and new; past performance and glory will not get you to the future, so said the Analyst and Consultant.

Fads don’t move mountains, it needs a lot more than that; we have built industries brick by brick, customer by customer, providing them products and services for generations. Products have evolved with technology and so has the customer with times; that does not mean that the old way of doing business will go away. The market will divide into distinct segments catering to different customer expectations with some overlap. We will adapt at our own pace aligned to our customer needs, countered the industry lobby.

Both have a point ! Technology led disruption had shaken foundations though most have survived the onslaught from new business models. CIOs became powerful and then many did not scale to expectations resulting in opportunity for consultants to fill the gap; for other CXOs it was no different. The disrupted, they adapted to the new paradigm grudgingly; it was a matter of time that the dust settled down with growth again back on the anvil while money-losers struggle to change business models for long-term survival.

Do companies have the luxury of time to choose their pace and path of change ? Can leaders afford to shun external insights while they live within their microcosm ? The world has moved from insular decision making to crowd-sourcing ideas and learning. The hyper-connected world offers new ways of doing business, competing with old and new players, and understanding customers; technology as a foundation shall determine the ability of enterprises and industries future until a new wave again creates disruption !

Be open to ideas even if they are not your own, your longevity may depend on it !

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