Get ready to pounce

Yesh Surjoodeen, HP Inc

We find ourselves in interesting times, where change is constant . How we strategically set ourselves up to deal with it will be the difference between success and faillure.

Businesses have a lot to contend with – not only is there the quickening pace of digitalisation, but there have been significant politico-economic changes recently; President Trump’s election, Brexit, and South Africa has its own set of fluctuating factors.

Facing such a period of uncertainty can be daunting, but rather than simply hanging on for survival businesses should put in place a framework of flexible goals to help guide the way. This exercise of determining key business priorities shouldn’t be an annual (or less frequent) one, do it regularly and take the time to think, plan and re-group where necessary.

Digitalisation is huge

While there is nothing you can do about the political situation in the United States, you can learn to embrace new technologies such as the onset of digitalisation. If your business is driven around a box and a price, it will be short-lived. Take the time to inform yourself, think about what’s lacking and allow the rest of the organisation to think about digital too – new trends, new ideas and how that can be patched into your business.

Think new, be adventurous

There should always be a leader, but never limit ideas to just coming from the top.

Looking beyond the MD, CEO or Exco will foster ideas and innovation throughput across the organisation. Innovation doesn’t need to be grand, but it does require multiple pockets of excellence across the business. If you do anything this year, try something new, no matter how small, and if you’re not sure what then talk to your customers, staff and vendor partners to understand their perspectives.

Incubate ideas from within the organisation about new routes to market or solutions offerings, and put ideas into practice. By doing this you’ll start to create differentiators, which is important for survival in a competitive market. The days of a ‘me too’ strategy are far gone. The PC market is highly commoditised, and commodity markets rely on value to differentiate. Value is perceived based on the combination of customer needs versus the capabilities and benefits of product or supplier.

Go beyond once-off

Customers in commodity markets tend to rely more on transactional deals. For long-term success, move from a transactional strategy to a contractual one. Don’t view a deal’s completion as the end; it can be the beginning of an ongoing customer relationship – build on the original success.

There needs to be a retention strategy to keep customers, and don’t underestimate customer satisfaction as a key factor here. There has to be mutual benefit for both supplier and customer in the relationship. It’s also important to always provide a high quality of service to encourage loyalty.
Indeed, customer focus rather than product focus is something we’re seeing from some exciting channel SMEs coming through.

Equipped with a digital startup mentality, they haven’t built their model on margin from commodity hardware sales, they’ve built a model on keeping customers for as long as possible, but they also have other value stacks to sell to the customer. They’re not afraid of more complex deals, and are good at
partnering when they don’t have the necessary expertise. Their solutions are complex, but well-managed, so they’re less reliant on big infrastructure and aren’t paying those high costs. They’ve got an efficiency model built in, and they can adapt and scale quickly.

Make a plan

South Africa’s culture of ‘let’s make a plan’ – even with obstacles in the way – is something we as individuals are born with. But, we need to spread the sense of creativity and urgency that shapes South Africans throughout the business too.

A question I ask a lot is ‘how quickly can you make something happen?’ The reason is that time is key for strategic decisions and implementations; the biggest weighting should be on time. You can have the best idea, but if you don’t move on it, the time it takes to regain lost IP can hurt you competitively.
Time is free to all but indecisiveness and the inability to act or react quickly can kill everything.

Having good information is important to guide decisions, and I think analytics is perhaps the most easily ignored aspect of any business; knowing what you sell, where and how. If you can profile and understand better, you can link your various strategies more easily. Not having analytics could  potentially forfeit ideas for new business opportunities. At a broader level, take the time to analyse and think about your business, and be prepared to evolve it so you’re ready to move quickly.

“Time is free to all but indecisiveness and the inability to act or react quickly can kill everything.”

We find ourselves in interesting times, where change is constant . How we strategically set ourselves up to deal with it will be the difference between success and failure.

sponsored by
sponsored by