I am seeing some really neat changes in our business climate. Mom and pop operations are going global selling niche products online. Voice and data are converging and are making the management of communications almost as easy as the management of information. It’s exciting and scary at the same time?
Why is it scary? While as a technology consultant I rarely advocate being out there on the bleeding edge, I firmly believe that you should keep up with standards. Now let’s drop the technology part and just leave consultant for a minute.
The way we all do business is evolving – not too fast, mind you – but at a steady, predictable pace. The most important thing that I feel any small business can do at this point is to look at the changes that are taking place and look at how they affect your business. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of things and ignore what’s going on around you, so if you don’t have the time, I would strongly consider hiring someone to do it for you. Someone who will come in, look at the way you operate and help you define an information-centric way to compete in the upcoming years.
Have you ever heard of Royal and Underwood typewriters? Maybe not. They no longer exist because they refused to recognize that electricity was coming to typewriters. Stetson ignored the changing needs of their customers and are now history as well. Not every company that ignores change ends in failure. Singer sewing machine company, which later became known as only “Singer”, is alive and well today, but no longer makes sewing machines.
What special talent did Bob Hope have that enabled him to have success in the toughest business for an unheard of 50-years? He started out in vaudeville, moved on to Broadway, then movies, radio and finally into television – mastering each medium along the way. He was able to recognize the changes taking place around him. He saw the industry changing and tailored his style of performing accordingly. That’s what the small business today has to do. Change to fit the way your customers want your product or service. A sound information-based systems strategy is a key component to being able to recognize the changes are even going on.
Did you know, if you drop a frog in a pan of hot water, he will immediately react by jumping out of the pan. But, if you carefully place the same frog in a pan of comfortably cold to lukewarm water, then slowly raise the temperature of the water a degree at a time, the frog will accept the change, perhaps not even noticing it, and stay in the water until the heat kills it.
The point is that we all run the risk of getting cooked if we don’t notice the small, slow changes going on around us. The small changes, like a sunrise, often bring about bigger changes as dramatic as night and day. The easiest and least expensive way to stay on top of your business and the changes that are happening is a sound strategy for the collection, storage, analysis and use of information. If you’re a small company – having a good partner to help you with this task makes perfect sense.