8 July 2019

Are You Ready For Tomorrow?

Looking back on this time, many people will talk about how fundamentally running an organisation was changed. There are great examples of major disruption happening; they will talk about the Uber's and the Air BnB's and the sharing economy. But to focus on the big examples is to ignore the fundamentals of why this disruption has occurred. Today, business capabilities and practice has evolved to:

  • Enable significantly expanded economies of scale

  • Greater access to more granular markets

  • Provide sharper value propositions to clients

  • Provide faster response to market conditions and opportunities

  • Greater collection and leverage of data (specifically client data)

These changes are the foundation for how and why Air BnB and Uber exist today. But these changes affect more than the Taxi and Hotel industry, including your industry. Are you ready for tomorrow?

Tomorrow is coming

Within your organisation. what happens when one of your competitors decides to radically alter their value proposition and focus on delivering a great customer experience for your most profitable business vertical? What if a bright 20-something decides to have a crack at your industry and is actually starting to take market share? What plans do you have in place? These disruptors have the technical savvy, potentially a bit of capital, and the ability to take risks that you may not. Disruption favours the Agile. Major competitive movements in the market don't happen overnight. You can prepare or orient your organisation for the new environment.

Focus: The Taxi Industry

The Taxi industry had a long time to do something about Uber. They saw what it was doing overseas, it was news for years before they launched locally. What was their reaction? They focused on market protection, instead of meeting the competitive challenge and evolving their value proposition. What Uber was able to do wasn't terribly complicated, they just did a couple of things well that the taxi industry did not offer.

  1. Streamlined end-of-trip payment

  2. Location awareness between driver and passenger

  3. Driver performance transparency

All of these were managed through a simple mobile application. There can be some tricky work with map management and routing, but this is all manageable by a professional digital outfit. Did any of the existing providers look to upgrade their digital platforms to at least gain parity with this capability? No! They lobbied the government and ran an ill-conceived campaign that you would be "safer in a taxi". I can't say they would have market researched that campaign in the marketplace, it just didn't resonate. I proactively reached out to a major company in the taxi industry, and I was able to get a meeting to pitch a digital transformation activity that would offer these important capabilities - but to no avail. They had 'other priorities' and the organisation had a culture which didn't embrace change. They had a workforce entrenched in a culture of tenure and were lifetime employees. This was 4 years ago.

Barriers to change

Disruption is a term to define the most extreme manifestation of the change we are seeing. You have time to prepare and respond to a disruption stimulus or to be that disruption or change in the market. To get ahead of disruption you need to become a more agile organisation (or marketing capability). We work with a number of large and publicly listed companies that are experiencing change in disruption in their market, and we see the blockers that are stopping them from seeing their potential.


This is a serious issue for well-established organisations - and probably the most common that we see. People are hired, they become good at what they do, and they get comfortable. They don't want to change, because they like that they are good at what they do now and are not comfortable to take risks to put them on a better path. All change carries risk, things may break, and not work as well during the adaptation period but they will get better. But not responding to the changed market condition is riskier. For example, in 2016 after being acquired by Microsoft the Nokia CEO announced that Nokia "hadn't done anything wrong" in the market after seeing their market position erode from near dominance to purely an onlooker. This is a glaring indictment of the culture at Nokia. They did what they knew, and they kept doing it until it stopped being relevant. They didn't change with the market. Ultimately, in your team, you need to make sure that conservative operators are balanced by people who see the need and can be champions for change. If you have staff members who are constantly pulling the hand brake on change, nothing will improve.

Customer experience

What is your organisation's view on customer experience, do you have a customer experience strategy? Disruptive organisations have a strong focus on maximising their customer value proposition to create advocates for their brand. These companies have a range of activities to review and improve their customer experience, from all touch points. They also have the data to track objectively what that looks like from the customers' perspective and they dive into problems if they get bad feedback. Listening to customer feedback is a gold mine of opportunities to better understand your value proposition, improve your product (or service) offering - or find new opportunities to create products or services. You need to adapt to the customer.

Financial status quo

Many big companies fall behind in the market because they have something that works now. Why should they do something differently which could compromise the golden goose and waste money? Kodak is the gold standard example here. They developed digital photography, they could have been an important player in the digital age. But they rejected the potential because they didn't want to cannibalise their existing camera film business lines. Investments don't need to be an all-or-nothing play. A key principle of agile is to build, test and adjust your approach. Change, always change.


Technical debt is an off-balance sheet debt or cost that you will need to pay to move your systems back to a place where you have something that is in line with current good practice. Any kind of shortcuts that you or your development company may have made to get a result quickly is going to add to technical debt. Unfortunately, the effort to get in step with the pace of disruption is going to move beyond a simple investment to return calculation. If you want to be agile and competitive within the market, you need to meet the standard that is being set by the market - or you technical debt will only grow. Do you have the processes in place to enable constant improvement to your technology platforms?

Preparing for change, constant change

This is the new status quo. Organisations need to be agile, you need to understand there is a new way of thinking about change. Data is central to the change as it defines the map that you want to traverse.

Take away thoughts...

It's worth asking yourself

  • Competitive - When was the last time you gained an insight into your competitors' offerings?

  • Culture - Are you surrounded by people who are sensitive to change in the way things operate?

  • Technological - Are you investing in maintaining your technology platform, do you know the cost of getting or keeping it to current technical pacing?

  • Value proposition - Do you hold back improvements to your customer value to protect income?

  • Client satisfaction data - Does your organisation have a good connection to the pulse of your customer?

  • Market - Have you performed a threat analysis of how your business model could broken apart to provide a more specialised service?

Getting serious about change

If you would like to get serious about how your marketing is supported by an agile digital agency that can help transform your digital, get in touch with Lamb Agency today.

Greg is the Managing Director of Lamb Agency, a digital agency focused on creating industry-leading websites.

Talk to us.

Talk to us.