Like most businesses, we have seen a lot of change in the last few months and, having dealt with the trauma of moving to lockdown, are now making plans for how we adapt our business for the longer term. Part of our changes are to enable more self-service, essentially disrupting our old face-to-face processes with new, mainly digital equivalents.
The New Yorker article below is about the work of Clayton Christensen and how new disruptive technologies manage to oust well-run and pragmatic incumbent businesses. The premise is essentially that the new business target a part of the market where an initially "crummy product" out-performs the current offering and then innovate from there to go through the different sectors until the old way of working is inefficient in all markets.
What is interesting now is that this approach can be useful when thinking about where to implement changes inside a business. Achieving "digital transformation" can be looked at as an incremental, iterative process where putting better digital fixes into the business to improve the organisation and remove the "white smoke" caused by inefficient legacy processes.
Incremental and iterative does not mean slow; it is simply a useful way of looking at your processes and trying to establish where the "easy wins" are to better service the needs of those clients who are not getting the bespoke, platinum service. If the changes are directed at the many, not the few, over time the needs of the top-tier clients will be addressable digitally and much more efficiently as well.
So maybe, when thinking about how we'll adapt to a more locked-down and cautious future, we should look to prioritise the needs of our smaller clients first.
He pointed his clicker at the screen and the first slide appeared. “For those of you who haven’t made a lot of steel, historically there are two ways to make it,” he said. “Most of the world’s steel has been made by massive integrated steel companies. The other way to do it is to build a mini mill."