Time for Action on the Edge
2020 is the year of action and we are already witnessing an increased momentum of change, a part of the businesses aligning efforts with extinction crisis, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs), the idea of the Big Shift which refers to the augmented connectivity and the rapid advancements in technology. Big Shift is very much like the moonshot thinking and we are witnessing multiple examples of moonshot projects and their applications in numerous industries. Moonshot thinking driven by “action” is transformational and requires some muscle training as well as passion, joyous activism, a drive to engage with diverse networks and take decisions (risks) and responsibilities that are alien to oneself, being on the edge of one`s comfort zone too often, an aspiration for technology but more so, including the human element in the framework. I will try to focus on a few of the essentials where the increased connectivity and the exponential advancements in technology are creating new market opportunities for businesses.
For future success, businesses will need to move from innovating at a product or service level and innovate at a platform level. Sitting at the executive level of a technologically advanced, huge manufacturer on a commercialized product base catering to global customers, it is vital to define how to transform so that we become a go to platform and explore the potential that the platform will enable rather than being recognized solely as a manufacturer. I am pretty sure that many working in the fashion industry will relate to the feeling of being pressured for working more for less in terms of company earnings as well as the urge to be responsible and invest in systems to generate business for good. (both for the planet as well as for the people) It is a tricky and sticky balance. How we consume needs to change and the businesses need to play a role in educating the consumer as well as transforming the industry and also remain profitable so that we can remain sustainable as a business.
Connectivity is happening on multiple dimensions where digital convergence is enabling global, cross industry, multi skill and diverse experience, talent pool rich ecosystems. Platforms and eco-systems help to accelerate the learning and this learning process is not based on existing knowledge but is somewhat “discovered” by the participants and the new dynamics. The platform format is based on trust and failing is a part of the process but even in failing there is a sense of trust that lies at the base of the connectivity. The learning platforms, in any industry actually create the future and the real disruption is not solely based on technology but the multiple relations that are defined with/within the current and the future dynamics of the participants.
Focusing on scaling efficiencies will not be sufficient and here comes the dilemma : Operating in a consumer market business, we are currently faced with declining profits as the mass retailers and brands still consider that cutting the cost (value) of goods they purchase, will help them to compete and remain to be profitable. This is short term recovery and will remain to be in contradiction with the global future dynamics. Scaling efficiencies and simply cutting costs (again unfortunately value in some cases) will not enable to transform the industries. Businesses will need to consider revenue expansion working through the platforms where the focus will be more on the “edge” rather than the core of the products and the services they offer. The traditional way of conducting business is producing diminishing earnings and the edge is where future possibilities could be discovered. Cutting costs and introducing marginally developed products and services will compensate short-term however working on the dynamics of the platform edge will reveal long-term benefits. Focusing on the edge does not mean to cannibalize the current concentration or be a threat to the core but to grow the pie in a creative and collaborative way. After all, the edge will become the next core for the future. The edge could be the very example that the core needs and drive revenue as well as research and development. Transforming to such a set-up will require a mind-set shift for the management, aligning with the dynamics of the future and taking action on what needs to be done today to reach tomorrow.
The interaction of brands, products, services with their future stakeholders have been defining the current success of the businesses as well as their future outlook. This is why it is becoming ever more essential to build and think as platforms and networks. When we talk about eco-systems we are also talking about the environment that the platform is established in (on), and this includes the natural, social as well as the monetary interaction. The learning ecosystems most of the time, are large organizations with numerous, independent participants motivated to share a common goal and these platforms thrive if the participants are convinced that they can grow personally as well as the platform itself. Once again this requires updated leadership as well as trust in the organization and its value proposal. The edges do not refer to only changing consumer preferences, product innovation, sustainable solutions but they arise where connectivity and technology interact to define a new undiscovered path. The edge identifies and explores the emerging potential which might not be on the senior managements current agenda and thus need to be well communicated both internally as well as externally. To summarize human and planet centered learning platforms on the edge make use of external sources and gain access to diverse technology at lower cost and accelerate connected and collaborative learning and tap into tomorrow’s opportunities.