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EDGE 2017 - May you live in interesting times

Professor Mohan Sawhney | Aug. 14, 2017
Professor Mohan Sawhney of the Kellogg School of Management pressed pause to outline the future channel opportunities during the opening keynote of EDGE 2017.

On the one hand, you are going to be called upon for help, but on the other hand, you are going to be called upon to transform. And if you don't transform, then it doesn't matter how big you are, how long you've been around in the market, you will die.

Adaptability is the key to success in the future because we are all faced with disruption. I hear digital disruption a lot but we all get hung up on what it actually means.

Well, let me offer you a very simple explanation - "applying digital (mobile, cloud, analytics) technologies to deliver disruptively superior customer value by transforming products, channels, business models, markets and user experiences".

At the end of the day, disruption is meaningless until someone will pay for it. It is the creation of customer value that is disruptive.

And how do we do this? We can do it in lots of ways.

We take a product and convert it into an on-demand service, that creates customer value. We make provisioning and installation go away, that creates customer value. We allow people to scale up or down depending on the resources they require, that creates customer value.

It's the transformation of a product, the transformation of a channel, the transformation of a business model, the transformation of a marketplace and the transformation of a user experience.

But the end goal is the same and you should benchmark yourself against disrupters when offering customer value.

You must understand what the end customer wants as it will not be possible for you to transform yourself until you understand how your customer is being transformed and being disrupted.

Digital disruption is manifesting itself in different ways however because you all have customers in different industries.

For example, look at businesses that are customer intensive. Businesses that have millions of interactions with customers very frequently, such as banks, airlines, hospitality and retail organisations.

In this case, transformation is coming through customer interaction and customer experience. They focus on managing the front office, transforming their channels, leveraging social media and call centre operations - that's where the low hanging fruit is.

On the other hand, consider industries like oil and gas, chemical plants and heavy manufacturing facilities - asset intensive businesses. In these businesses, the way that digital manifests itself is in transformation of the asset productivity and operations, which is where the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes relevant for example.

Meanwhile, for businesses that are services orientated, it is the productivity of labour where you should focus on.

The story here is, understand who your customers serve, figure out which group they belong to and help them on their digital transformation journey by attacking the low hanging fruit.


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