Once a business has decided that it needs to fundamentally transform all or part of how it operates to stay competitive, the question then becomes – how should it go about doing it? What rate does it need to change at? How much will it need to change?
Technology and continual change
Business transformation isn’t a linear path from A to B. There are no set guidelines for how a business should transform, and there is also no end-point. While some changes will be major shifts in what a business does and how it does it, the continual progression of technology means that a business will always have to be anticipating change.
The faster the change has to occur, and the bigger the transformation, the higher the needs of the business will be during the remodelling.
Knowing the why, but not the how
A retail store may know it needs to change to an e-commerce model, either partially or completely, but not know how to best do so.
Traditionally retail has involved understandings of store layout, training and incentivising sales staff, print and TV advertising, and in-store displays.
If that same store is to move into e-commerce, suddenly it needs to know about web development and security, supply chain management, warehousing, shipping, and more. This may be knowledge to replace existing knowledge, or to go alongside it.
Where to go to learn?
Very rarely will a business be transforming in a way that no other has previously. Consulting with other companies that have undergone similar transformations can be beneficial. The first step for a business is to learn what it doesn’t know – what is actually involved in working in the new way, what will have to be mastered to make the change successful.
Both the outcome of the transformation, and the process of transformation will differ depending on the company and the industry – so what works for one may not work for another.
Change management experts can help guide a business through a transformation, as well as helping evaluate the risks and rewards of transformation.
Focus on the customer to guide change
The extent of transformation a business undergoes should be driven by the needs of its customers. How do they want to engage with the business? In the same way, or in different ways – or both? Some businesses benefit more from not undergoing drastic change – their clientele prefers to interact traditionally, or their primary market has difficulty adapting to change. For instance, a clothing store may find that an ecommerce site brings in new business – but for an antiques store, the change isn’t likely to bring any benefits.
And there is always the business of money – how do the customers of a business want to pay? How can the business get them to pay at all? Paywalls may have to replace subscriptions, or monthly user fees may need to be implemented in place of long-term licenses.
Ultimately when a business is deciding what needs to be changed, it must find out what draws customers to it in the first place. Knowing its major appeal helps to pin down what needs to change, what should stay the same, and what the business’s transformation should be focused on developing.
I T ’ S E A S Y T O