Sink or Swim? How Embracing Change Can Be Your Business’ Life Jacket

08/04/2017 03:50 pm ET Updated Sep 12, 2017

“There can be no life without change, and to be afraid of what is different or unfamiliar is to be afraid of life.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Accepting rides from total strangers or sleeping in their homes is the new norm. Robotic chef arms can prepare your meals. The President of the most powerful nation on earth used to host a celebrity reality show. This is the world we live in. And, (whether you like it or not), businesses must follow suit and learn to adapt to the changing world order or get left behind like the flip-phone.

Since the dawn of man, adapting to change has always been a key survival skill. And it’s never been more valuable than in these volatile times. More importantly, with today’s volatile business landscape comes opportunity to ride the wave of change and advancement – that’s only if organizations are ready to embrace technology, understand the value of their changing workforce and personalize their processes/ products/services to stay customer-relevant.

Let’s discuss how.

Proven Methods for Embracing Change

For a business to successfully evolve and progress means investing in two things: People and Technology. Today, there is a highly symbiotic relationship between the two – without one, the other is largely ineffective. And at the end of the day, a company’s innovation comes down to its talent pool, which is dependent on the support and tools they are given.

But how do organizations build on their talent and changing tech landscape to meet today’s business demands? Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Don’t run from new technologies – embrace them. Enterprises are racing towards new efficiencies that can help empower their customers, employees and everything in between. From augmented reality to IoT devices, there are tools to fill any void.

Let’s take the simple case of social media. It was a phenomenon many were skeptical of, but now every organization needs in their tool belt – from mom and pop shops to multi-national corporations. Social media has become a power to influence the masses and spread a brand’s message instantly with just one click – and is expected to generate $11 billion in revenue in 2017, up from $3.1 billion in 2013. Clearly, it’s become a giant that can’t be ignored.

So how can organizations properly explore and take advantage of new technologies?

TIP: A great way to explore new technologies and platforms is to have open creative sessions where people come together to brainstorm how best to take a new technology on. It can be a one-day intensive session, or smaller meetings over time. It's about getting a few people in the room to go over the opportunities and barriers in a quick and engaging manner. Remember, not every idea is going to be a home-run. Keep experimenting until you find a game-changer.

2. View the millennial workforce as an advantage, not a hindrance. Often, this group of creative and tech-savvy individuals are mistaken as entitled and unable to follow orders. On the contrary, they can be an asset to your organization because they don’t have to adapt to a changing world, they are a product of it!

Steve Jobs says that “it doesn't make sense to hire good people and tell them what to do; we hire good people so they can tell us what to do.”

It’s no wonder why so many millennials list Apple Computers as one of their choice employers – and it’s not just for the perks.

TIP: Swap the bean bag chairs and ping pong tables and instead, focus on providing them with flexible hours so they can have a work-life balance. Also, commit to an open-source of communication and feedback which resonates well with this always-on generation. Lastly, be prepared to hand over appropriate responsibility to your high performers – they crave the challenge and are impatient to prove themselves.

3. Think personalization and relevancy first. Just having your own app isn’t enough – you must customize your processes, products and services for your customers while keeping the Internet of Everything in mind every step of the way. Transform your apps and tools to be more helpful, personal and innovative. Think of what your customer needs to do and make the path to get there as painless as possible.

Tech powerhouse - Google Inc. – takes full advantage of this, and it’s no surprise why they remain a force to be reckoned with.

“Good companies do whatever it takes to make sure apps are great and don't hesitate to add features,” says Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, adding “Computing is evolving beyond phones, and people are using it in context across many scenarios, be it in their television, be it in their car, be it something they wear on their wrist or even something much more immersive.”

TIP: A great resource for understanding user experience, customization and how to give your customers their desired outcomes is Invision. Their blog is perfect for gaining quick feedback from the people that matter! Appcues also has some innovative ideas on customization.

As for user friendly tips, enter your website's URL into Google's Mobile-Friendly Test and it will let you know if you've got a mobile-friendly page on your hands.

4. Gather the analytical tools for change. Organizations of all sizes are using predictive analytics to improve performance, increase their bottom line and give them a competitive advantage. A recent report from MIT Sloan Management Review stated that the number of companies reporting a competitive advantage from analytics increased for the first time in four years. Though there isn’t a crystal ball to predict future outcomes, using intuitive tools to improve decisions and better match customers’ needs to your product or service is the next best thing.

In the words of renowned computer scientist, Alan Turing, “we can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”

TIP: Over the coming decade, organizations must be prepared to look beyond their borders to gather and interpret valuable data – which will play a much bigger role in customer acquisition in the years to come. Remember to define your goals, acquire data from all sources and do your due diligence with each data project, while leveraging technology wisely. Understand your data with help from data analyses software, like Dundas, or hire the right data team to unlock valuable and predictive insights into your business.

Steer Into the Skid of Change

Organizations must be ready to respond to the demands placed on them from the changing environment – from the bottom up. That’s why good leaders must embrace continuous learning for all employees as well as invest in efficient technologies that help them seamlessly meet their organizational goals.

Consider examples like reactive medicine (3D printed organs are, in fact, a thing) gaming (Pokémon Go disrupted video games with augmented reality) and automation (self-driving cars are no longer a thing of the future) and it is clear that change is the new normal.

Don’t just react to change when it occurs. Expect change as an inevitable recurring element in our personal and professional lives. And like a good driver, look just a short distance ahead to where you want to go and avoid skidding off the road.

How does your organization prepare for change? Leave your comments below.

With contributions from Mudeeha Yousef at Indellient

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