Is Your Business on Trend?

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Tuesday, September 8th, 2015
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The World Economic Forum 2015 report notes that if you searched for ‘trends’ on Google in 2011, it generated around 50 million results.

At the start of 2015, that same search produced around 500 million results. I did a search at the start of this month and got more than 1 billion results.

Clearly, the number and diversity of opinions about ‘what is likely’ has exploded, so it wouldn’t be surprising if you feel it’s going to be difficult to ensure your organisation, product or service is ‘on trend’ for success.

One thing that is certain is that old business models will not support new products or solutions.

The new economy is said to embody the desire to balance profit and purpose. This is arguably a return to the model that many companies once followed. For example, Henry Ford said that instead of boosting dividends, he’d rather use the money to build better cars and to pay better wages. Johnson & Johnson’s 1943 doctrine stated that the company’s ‘first responsibility’ was not to investors but to doctors, nurses, and patients.

The rise of B Corps – a new type of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems – reminds us that the model that corporations should focus on being lean, mean, profit-maximising machines is flawed. As individuals, we try to make our work not just profitable but also meaningful. It is time for more companies to do the same.

Two key ingredients for success in the disruptive new economy are transparency and empowerment. Transparency is about knowledge spreading instantaneously and success in the new economy depending on sharing; empowerment enables decentralised decision-making and risk taking.

Ideas happen when people connect and share – chance favours the connected. Product or service innovation is innovation of the old business model. Today innovation lies not with the idea, but with the team!

The opportunity is to have a positive impact on the environment or society while business is performing and have transparent information and decision-making.

The model for success is to easily and openly exchange ideas. So from today you can accelerate the sustainability strategy and objectives for your organisation. You can use gaming and social mechanics to facilitate collaboration across teams and workplaces and perhaps use data to reward engagement and positive actions and to collect intelligence that will inform and engage management by highlighting weaknesses and opportunities in the organisation’s culture and values. One of my start-up investments is a sustainability and employee engagement platform facilitating exactly this.

Silicon Valley has not yet been replicated – no matter how many countries or cities have tried, with many, many millions of dollars. It’s said that it has never been replicated because of its unique intelligent infrastructure supported by a collective culture. It has a combination of high rates of job-hopping and new company formulation and a culture of information exchange and risk taking that support the buildings, the ideas and the capital flows.

Clay Christensen’s disruptive innovation model is based on an approach that a threat comes from an industry player lower in the food chain. But what’s actually happening is that the threat is coming from nowhere.

My message is to feel empowered by this, not just fearful.

The Kodak bankruptcy in 2012 is said to be from the impact of 28 employees starting Instagram. Instagram was founded in 2010, and in 2012 it was sold to Facebook for more than $1 billion.

Examples of disruption in the property industry are also emerging: there is no need to pay a real estate agent fee because there are apps that register the potential seller and match the interested parties, removing the need for an agent;  there is no need to pay for hotel upselling – you can have food delivered, your dry cleaning done, even have transferable gym rights. And with Airbnb there’s no reason to stay in a hotel anyway.

Every part of the value chain will soon be under attack – Silicon Valley is coming!

A robot today in Western Australia is capable of erecting a brick home within the space of just two days, as compared to the four to six weeks it would take human labourers. As one of the pioneers of ‘offsite construction,’ Laing O’Rourke has driven this concept far beyond its earliest iteration. Today, they are delivering an extensive range of modular solutions, including with the help of a robot for their large-scale 3D printing system. But even Laing O’Rourke agrees the disruptive change will mostly come from outside our sector.

Room scale buildings are already being constructed using 3D printers today; it is said that by 2020 entire buildings will be constructed using 3D printing models.

The self-driving car industry and robotics of Artificial Intelligence will see robots teaching robots. Tradesmen and tradeswomen will be coding robots.

The CEOs of tomorrow should not be focused on themselves and the immediate term or even just on their company; they should be focused on the industry and even the country.

The digitisation of the economy offers huge opportunities to create new value and drive productivity, but unless the property sector starts to share information and design new services around the new software products, another sector will steal our lunch.

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