You might find this funny, and maybe even somewhat disjointed in logic, but the IT industry after all these years, is now going through its teen years and it appears to have all the makings of ‘teenage’ as we know it. Even if 2014 is only its second year, the anxiety, the tension is all very visible.
Cloud, Mobile, Social, internet-of-things, – look at it anyway you like, there is a writing on the wall that the extent of change that we are about to see, through the rest of the teens, is going to be incredible and dramatic. In fact, I am sure you will agree that we are staring into the face of a kind of metamorphosis that will be nothing like the usual drama of change we associate with teenage.
But one thing is clear – it will take something entirely different to handle this teen.
A great friend of mine who has, at various times, had to deal with four children through their teens (plus some of their friends ) calls out three critical aspects that matter most in dealing with this phase, and, of course, helping them through it – ‘Immediacy’, ‘Transparency’ and ‘Listening’…
Immediacy: When teens are ready to talk, you must be ready to listen.
Transparency: Teens know when you’re hedging or not being completely genuine. It is paramount to be honest, and transparent while dealing with them.
Listening: To listen truly, means being involved with your heart as much as your head, your eyes as much as your ears. True listening requires your entire being – and coming to terms with what really is.
The same approach works with this particular teen we are dealing with, however, know that it will take a more conscious effort to decipher and understand the nature of change. It will take wilful shedding of notions that currently rule our technology decisions. it will take new learning. It will take a lot of un-learning. And most important of all, it is not about being aware of that change or even participating in it, but indeed a clear call for us to change. To adapt. To prepare for what tomorrow is going to be like in ways that we have never prepared for any tomorrow of yesterday.
It is true. As the industry goes through the next few years , the associated change demands for us to snap out of being a spectator of that change and become not just a willing participant, but also to rapidly adapt to the oncoming wave of change.
So if you are an organization that is either indifferent to technology or perhaps only aware of what is going on in the periphery of your vision, let me first thank the heavens that you are still in business. Many other organizations with that attitude to technology have packed up and gone home. You have to learn to look at what is happening in the eye and then adapt and create a different vision – one that looks at technology as a catapult to reaching tomorrows customer faster, cheaper, smarter. The differentiator that has so far made you stand out in your crowded market is likely no more a differentiator. That jaw-dropping story that made you a hit may be already jaded today and is probably too vain for tomorrow.
The new wave of technology is fast changing the foundations of all your customer touch-points in Marketing, Sales and Customer engagement. So much that it is not just new technology that is required for you to keep up, but new skills and a whole new set of paradigms and techniques to capture your customer. Getting there is an effort and after you have caught up, the journey does not end – it only begins from there on.
Good. Because IMHO the one thing that will differentiate successful firms from the not-so-successful firms tomorrow will be a sense of “constructive and creative restlessness” as I’d like to call it. A sense of restlessness that comes from never ceasing, never pausing, never getting into a zone of complacence when it comes to staying engaged with your customer and being competitive – a restlessness that comes from a sort of apprehension of the unknown, a fear of the unexpected. Indeed, a healthy sense of Paranoia – one that will help you deal with both your internal and external drivers continuously to stay competitive. A mode that will keep you prepared not merely to adapt to new technology and the associated change but in fact sets you on the path to create new paradigms yourself.
Bottomline: This is a phase that calls for you to go through a metamorphosis yourself, more than you care to admit.
Here is to a great new year two thousand fourteen!