Every day, I'm faced--like many of my clients--with trying to second-guess how the constant march of technology is going to reshape the landscape in which I work.
It reminds me of the dotcom bubble. In case you don't remember, it was a time when every CEO and business owner had a fear of being left behind and felt a deep rooted need to "do something on the web." The companies who did this in the corporate world were often rewarded with higher stock prices.
There was plenty of hype. Plenty of talk. And plenty of courageous, entrepreneurial businesses that do not exist today.
In a rapidly changing environment, the challenge is to find a way to cut through all the noise and get a good sense of where to invest the time, money and energy to set your business up for success. And you need to find a way to do that without getting sucked into the hype.
Last month, my team had a workshop to establish a clear path for our business on technology innovation. I'd like to share the approach we took with you, as it's a must for any business looking to innovate.
Identifying your "no regrets" strategies
Suppose I sat down with you and we had a chat.
We'd talk about the business environment you operate in and how that environment is likely to look in five years. We'd talk about how customer behaviors and expectations would change. We'd look at where your competitors might be.
We'd explore how the demand for your product or service will be affected by the economic cycle and impacted by technology. Then we'd probably map out a few different scenarios showing what life might look like. The fact is, the pace of change and the speed with which 'unknown unknowns' emerge is so difficult to predict that the only certain thing is that none of our scenarios will be right.
However, there are directional elements that thread common themes or needed capabilities through all of those scenarios which, regardless of the actual outcome, will be present in one form or another. Those are what we labeled as 'no regrets' strategies or investments because starting to invest in getting on the learning curve of those common threads and evolving your business to accommodate them has very little downside.
Whatever the future looks like, these are investments of time, money and energy you'll probably never regret. Because these things underpin whatever that future state ends up being, businesses who don't get on that curve won't be positioned well for the future.
Each business is unique, and the investments you make in your future depend on your priorities. Nevertheless, all businesses should consider 'no regrets' investments like:
Optimizing your customer experience
How you interact with your customers is critical to the long term relationship you will have with them. Whether it's the online or in-person experience, investing in the optimization of these channels and putting your customers' satisfaction first is a sure bet.
Scaling up your cybersecurity defense
We've all seen the headlines of major cyber hacks and data breaches. Companies of all sizes are vulnerable. Investing in the right technology and resources to protect your data and information is a must. Similarly, investing in training your team to be aware of phishing scams and other potential hacks, is a wise long-term investment.
Retaining top talent
Retaining your top talent is key to achieving your goals. If one of your star performers is poached by a top competitor it could have a real impact on your business. Make sure your top talent is being recognized and rewarded.
Take the time to identify what those 'no regrets' areas are for your business. At the very least, get on the learning curve. Start to play in the traffic. And have the comfort of knowing that you're unlikely to regret it.