In our line of business, we work with companies from many different industries.  Through this exposure, we develop a wide perspective on the various industries in the region.  It is clear to us that companies led by visionaries tend to prosper and win.  On the other hand, firms that are controlled through committees and group think tend to lag and resort to price competition.

The latter frustrates us the most.  Despite the evident need for change, these companies tend to ponder, brainstorm, meet, discuss, and debate… but at the end, they revert back to the daily grind and the fire fighting.  At the same time, they see their market share shrink, their margins drop, and the workload increase.

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As we said before, the 4th Industrial Revolution relies heavily on the digitization of the various aspects of the business.  Harvesting the company’s data and transforming it into value adder is key to the success in this age.  Many companies have proven that already… The value captured by Whatsapp is not in its ability to send messages… it’s the fact that over a Billion people do so within its platform.  The value that Snapchat delivers is not in its ability to create quirky and funny videos… it’s the fact that over 150 million people do so on a daily basis.

Stop trying to control everything!

You’ve all heard of the “Internet Minute”.  The stats keep on getting larger.  We all know about the half a million snapchats shared, and the 3 million videos viewed…. But this is all about kids who don’t have anything better to do, right?  WRONG!  The same trend is being seen with online purchases of Insurance policies, car rentals, home loans, hotel rooms, tv shows, and many other “traditional” industries.  

I understand the tendency to be reluctant when a company has huge investments in brick and mortar assets, but it’s the visionaries who recognize that the sunk investment will not protect you from the future wave of change are the ones who will continue to win in the future.  A few companies in the region (or the world) have invested in brick and mortar as much as the UAE based company Emaar has done.  This is probably why most people were shocked to hear that Emaar’s Chairman along with others are investing over $1B in a brand new online venture called noon.com.

Fail Fast, Fail Cheap!

In one of the workshops I’ve recently held with the senior executive team of a leading regional company, the question was asked “This is all good, but we’re waiting to figure out where do we start..” And my answer to that was “The best way to get started is to start!”.  It doesn’t really matter which part of the company you start transforming, the important thing is to start the culture of embracing change.  Once the company recognizes that the leadership is open to change, the team will rally around it.  Change will spawn further innovation, and innovation will spawn differentiation which eventually will lead into a competitive advantage!

For those who have heed the advice, I thank you!  For those who are still organizing management meetings to discuss what they should prioritize, good luck!

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