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Invigorated By Change: The New Norm

It’s one of the perils that many of us face.  We never seem to make enough time to really digest what the future holds for our organisations, our jobs and ultimately our fortunes going forward. In November, I totally bucked that trend.  After 4 intensive days at the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona – listening to over 30 analyst presentations, 5 analyst one-on-one sessions and a multitude of other brain expanding discussions, workshops etc. - I got chance to breathe for a few moments, before preparing for another day of intense content at the Digital Transformation Conference in London.

So, now that the information onboarding has taken place, I need to do something with it. But what? How do you assimilate what is important over what is interesting? How do you assess whether an opportunity commercially exists based on the various data points or whether its just a smart idea?  And that’s just me.  That’s coming at it as a boutique provider of services.

It was very interesting to hear two stats, in totally isolated presentations, which made me think more deeply about this challenge: “only 5% of the Fortune 500 have appointed a Chief Customer Officer (CCO)” – a board member focussed solely on providing the customer experience.  And perhaps more terrifying for some, “only 25% of the same Fortune 500 organisations will be around by 2027!”  I’ve heard both stats several times now – so I don’t consider it scare mongering; it’s a reality we’ll all have to get used to.  The actual demise or rise of these companies has never really been explained, but one assumes it will be bankruptcy or acquisition. Are the survivors the ones with the CCO? Almost certainly is my guess.

So why did these statements grab my attention so much? A few reasons really. The largest organisations are getting larger and have access to and have more control of data/information than ever before. We seem to ooze it out at will and in many cases, we have little effect on where it goes and what they do with it. The influence they have is beyond comprehension.  One of the best speakers at the Symposium was Andreas Ekstrom (I highly recommend you go to TED Talks or google a YouTube of him).  He talked about the control that these organisations are gaining and where they are heading – it’s certainly food for thought.

But is it not much simpler than that?  These organisations have become the best at understanding the human psyche and are now starting to influence it more than ever before.  They have done it on a global scale, so you must admire them.  But what they have really done is just focus on the emotional pitch to parts of the brain that others don’t do – we have become trusting of them. When a search engine gives us an answer, most of us believe the first 3 things we read.  When we see an advert on a social media site we think “isn’t that clever; how did they know I wanted a new lawnmower?”  All they are doing is listening, understanding and matching our needs with those of a provider.

But the customer experience is a challenge for all of us business owners. My personal approach has always been around “what’s in it for the customer?”.  That will be the edict of the planning sessions as we map out our service portfolio for the future, defining what services our clients will need in the next 2-5 years.  Our Head of Innovation is tasked with driving these ideas and over the next few months, we’ll start to implement a new service strategy in alignment with our growth plans.

With all the areas that technology could go, you can imagine that we are going to have a fun old time deciding where technology will be, never mind where our clients will want us to help them. 

It’s certainly going to be an exciting and adventurous 2019 for sure.  It will stretch the grey matter of the whole team in a new and exciting way.  We’ll learn to fail better than we ever have before but learn and fix faster than we thought possible.

The new sense of vulnerability is inspiring. It generates the same feelings I had 9 years ago before we set ROQ up. Success will come by bringing the whole team and our clients along on the journey and that is worth getting out of bed for every day.

Stephen Johnson

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