“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished,” said the wise Benjamin Franklin. The trick is, how to decide when change should happen?
It’s a topic that makes business leaders nervous. Change is good, but so is stability. The world does not comprise of only mavericks and trailblazers – and even those often reach their stature through steady determination, not constantly rocking the boat.
As the world builds on the tectonic shift of technology that was the Internet 1.0 era, we move into Industry 4.0, also called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The radical impact that technologies such as the internet, email and business applications created is now reaching beyond our computer screens and into the world around us.
Breakthroughs such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, artificial intelligence, connected cars, and smart cities are not just shaking things up – they are rewriting the rules.
History repeating itself?
Radically changing business models is not a new phenomenon. By 2027, three quarters of S&P 500 companies will be replaced. Over the last 60 years nearly 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies ceased to exist as independent entities.
The last time business experienced such upheaval was in the late 1970s, when new technologies sparked a massive shakeup of incumbents, leading into the consolidation-crazy 1980s.
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Hasbro, a multinational toy giant, previously sold textiles. So did Berkshire Hathaway, now an investment titan. Western Union was once the leader of telegraph systems, today it is a leader in cash transfers. Fujifilm has shifted its vast skills in chemicals from photography to making high-end cosmetics.
The six business models for change
Although we can’t see the future, we can look at what is working so far. And from these learnings, six distinct business models show promising resilience:
- The Outcomes Based Model – Instead of selling just products or services, a company’s revenue is determined by the outcomes their customers experience. Insurance companies favouring a usage-based model are good examples of this.
- The Expansion Into New Territories Model – This is the most popular example of disruption, with cases that include banks moving into telecommunications and telecommunication moving into banking. Amazon – a major freight customer – is now expanding into that very business.
- The Digitisation of Products and Services Model – Here companies use digitisation to improve the entire value chain and reduce costs. Think Apple’s music empire, or the efforts by banks to convince customers to swipe cards instead of exchanging cash.
- The Companies that Compete as an Ecosystem Model – This involves using complementary partners to build richer products. One could argue that car companies have been doing this for decades, but the connected car is reshaping even that stoic sector through new and radical partnerships.
- The Shared Economy Model – These businesses thrive on exploiting under-utilised assets sourced from third parties. AirBnB owns no hotels. Facebook creates no content. Yet both grow on those elements, all coming from the outside.
- The Digital Platform – The sixth and final model, this could be an online marketplace such as New Zealand’s Powershop; a networking space like SAP Ariba or the business tools found in Microsoft’s Office 365. Digital Platforms not only offer more for less, but create new and exotic ways of monetisation.
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Even the most conservative and largest companies have shifted their business models, extracting most of their revenue from streams that didn’t even exist a decade ago.
You may feel your business is still in calm seas, or perhaps it already feels the waves smacking its hull. But it’s critical that you see the winds of change blowing, and prepare to chart a new course for success in your business.
How Your Devices Can Improve Your Business Travel
Dawn Weir, head of kulula work and a veteran business traveller, offers these tech-savvy tips for road-warriors.
Technology has made business communication and business travel easier than ever, but it’s still possible to have a minor disaster involving your indispensable devices. Dawn Weir, head of kulula work and a veteran business traveller, offers these tech-savvy tips for road-warriors.
Stay on track
Activity trackers can help you stick to your fitness regime by recording step-counts, distances covered, sleep and nutrition. If you don’t fancy wearing one that looks like it’s from the flight-deck of the starship USS Enterprise, others are available which clip onto your ankle or clothing. Many are water-resistant and rugged, but if you prefer to not buy-one, apps like Samsung Health will record and analyse your daily activity.
A few bad nights’ sleep while travelling can leave one feeling unfocused and tetchy. Some of us sleep better in hotel-rooms than others, and some can be downright noisy. You can try using earbuds, but we don’t all like having wads of foam stuck into our skulls when trying to slip into the arms of Morpheus. One alternative is to load a white-noise generator on one of your devices. A site like www.mynoise.net has hundreds of soothing sounds, including waves, rain, crackling fireplaces, trickling streams and even Tibetan monasteries.
It might not drown out the sound of the guys returning to the hotel from their “team-building dinner” at 2am, but it’ll help to smooth out the noise of traffic and air-conditioning.
Cancel the chatter and clatter
Many business-travellers now swear by noise-cancelling headphones, which block out distractions and racket and can subtly let fellow travelers know that you’d prefer to not engage in lively conversation. Researchers disagree on the effectiveness of binaural beats for everything from creativity to concentration, but many students, academics and entrepreneurs find that they help with focus the mind.
Most mobile devices have decent battery-life nowadays, but the size and brightness of their screens and the plethora of apps running on them can drain that very quickly. Save your battery by switching off anything you don’t need: BlueTooth, location, mobile data and so on, as well as apps you’re not using. Switching your phone to Flight mode will also save battery power. Travellers increasingly user power-banks to boost battery-life, but Weir suggests reading users’ product reviews before buying one, as some are far more efficient than others.
Back up and go
Save your important documents – scans of your passport if you’re travelling internationally – as well as hotel reservations and travel itineraries, and take pictures and screenshots of them on your phone. That all-important PowerPoint presentation? Use a file-hosting service like Dropbox to put it in the cloud so you can access it wherever you need to.
If you’re a regular business traveller make a point of emptying all your luggage every few weeks. You’ll probably find you’ve accumulated flash-drives, USB adaptors and stationery and other stuff that takes up space and adds weight.
Everyone from business travelers to backpackers loves the portability of laptops, but while they’re lighter than ever, those with bigger screens can be bulky. One option is to travel with a tablet, which offers the efficiency of a laptop while taking up less space. If you need to do a lot of inputting while you’re on the road, get a flexible keyboard that can be rolled up until need, or pair your tablet or smartphone with a laser projection keyboard. It’s a clever gizmo that projects a full-sized QWERTY keyboard onto any flat surface, allowing you to type pretty much anywhere.
We’ve all seen the infographics showing how smartphones combine all the devices we once owned separately, like cameras, DVD- and CD-players, and that innovation continues. The Belkin Travel Rockstar combines a battery pack, surge protector and charger. It has three plug-ports (you may need an adaptor, depending on which plug configuration you use) and two USB ports.
Still not high-tech enough? Try Pluggage, a smart suitcase produced by luggage brand www.delsey.com that has its own app. It’s available in three sizes and its features include fingerprint ID to lock and unlock it (you can also lock and unlock it using the app), interior lighting and speakers. It weighs itself, has integrated USB chargers for your devices, and GPS tracking notifies you when it’s on a luggage carousel at the airport or being loaded onto or off a flight.
Why Your Latest Tech Investment Might Not Be Wowing Your Customers
You’ve got chatbots running your customer service, interactive screens across your stores and you’ve just appointed a chief digital officer. Why aren’t you seeing sales going through the roof?
You might have seen that customers don’t respond to disruption. PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.
It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.
1. Invest in the right technology for your business
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should.
But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.
In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table.
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To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
- Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
- Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.
2. How to support customer engagement
Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession?
The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.
In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities.
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They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.
3. Why you should be focusing on the customer journey
This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.
Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.
So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer.
Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.
South Africa Seeks Innovative Solutions to Payments Systems
How to bridge the divide and bring FinTech technology and a new infrastructure of POS systems to the masses.
News has been circulating that high-level players in South Africa are working hard to introduce structural changes in payments solutions. Some of the biggest players in the industry, including the Payments Association of South Africa, and BankservAfrica have begun work in earnest on facilitating expedited transactions settlements, by adding new payments systems and features into the market.
Financial technology, a.k.a. FinTech is powering the payments gateway to cost-effective solutions for South African businesses, consumers, domestic and international stakeholders. According to industry pundits, the payment system that currently exists in South Africa was formulated in the 1980s. At the time, it was highly regarded by world standards. However, the rampant innovation that has taken place with the Internet of things since then necessitates updating.
Various solutions have been touted, to rethink the infrastructure framework that currently exists in South Africa. The economy is rapidly changing, and mobile technology is being embraced across the board. The South African payments system is long overdue for an upgrade, as shifting priorities and the widespread digitisation of the economy take place. For starters, payments solutions across South Africa must factor in the large underbanked and unbanked sectors of society.
A key industry player, Bankserv which is owned and operated by Standard Bank, ABSA, and Nedbank among others is ringing the changes. Back in 2017, this financial entity processed R188.2 billion worth of ATM transactions. The total number of transactions numbered 452.6 million additionally. It processed 52.5 billion POS transactions valued at R290.9 billion in credit card authorizations in the same year. Electronic funds transfers (EFTs) to the value of R9.4 trillion were also processed by Bankserv. These are significant figures, and they point to a shift in financial transactions processing in South Africa.
Groundbreaking POS Systems to Debut in SA
The widespread innovation currently taking place in POS systems is reshaping retail industry, the food and beverage service, and other merchant networks across the board. One of the industry leaders in this regard is revel systems POS. It is fully integrated with a robust selection of features, the likes of which include superior reporting features, full kiosk functionality, and a modern kitchen display system for the thriving restaurant industry in South Africa. The technology was created back in 2010 by Chris Ciabarra and Lisa Falzone as an innovative Apple iPad point-of-sale system. It was tested in the San Francisco Bay Area and became an instant hit.
Today, the Revel POS system sports 25,000+ terminals around the world, at high profile company such as Cinnabon, Goodwill, Smoothie King and others. South African restaurants and food industry businesses can enjoy monthly subscription fees, and the software license is included in the monthly subscription fee. Flexible pricing is another advantage of using this POS system. Plus, users get to enjoy industry-specific software and integrations that can be used by quick service businesses and restaurants.
It’s ideally suited to businesses that have 500,000 SKUs, although it’s equally adept at serving smaller SA businesses. In terms of ease-of-use, this POS is intuitive for front-end use, and training videos facilitate backend learning and integration. The backend management is particularly effective in terms of training regimens, navigation, and utilisation. All that’s required to get started is an Apple iOS device, and any standard barcode scanner is fully compatible with the system.
Among the many features include the following:
- Fully Functional point-of-sale systems
- Real-Time Inventory control of SKUs, including cost considerations, pricing, inventory, size, colour, style etc. Digital menu boards, kitchen display systems, and kiosk point-of-sale systems are also available
- Purchase Order Management and QuickBooks integration
- Customer Management in terms of purchases, details and personal data is also available.
What Are the Current FinTech Challenges in South Africa?
Contrary to widespread belief, South Africa has one of the most sophisticated payments infrastructures. This is certainly a feather in the cap for South Africa’s financial and FinTech sector. Given that Internet usage is widespread, and the telecom network that facilitates Internet functionality is highly developed, South Africa ranks on par with the best of them.
There are effectively 2 parallel economies operating in South Africa – the first world developed FinTech economy, and the informal economy which dominates the outlying areas. South Africa has a challenge on its hands: How to bridge the divide and bring FinTech technology and a new infrastructure of POS systems to the masses.
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