We are living in amazing times! It’s a time of transition and great transformation. As business continues to accelerate, all companies have a choice to either keep up with the transformation or experience an increased level of friction in their quest to serve the customer. Choosing the path of transformation will ignite the move into the Digital Flow of Business – and there’s a lot less friction in the Digital Flow.
History of the Ages
I mentioned we are living in a time of transition and great transformation. Looking back at human history, we find descriptions of eras, ages, and revolutions. Here are some interesting points about this History. Everyone is familiar with the Hunting and Gathering Era which started almost 2M years ago1; the Agricultural Age which started in 10,000 BC2, and the Industrial Age which started in the mid to late 1700s3. But have you thought about the impetus for the start of each age?
In my research, I have found the impetus for moving between the ages is a trigger of some sort, followed by a significant change in the way business is conducted:
• The move into the agricultural age is when we moved from hunting and gathering to stationary farming with primitive irrigation. Stationary farming with irrigation was the trigger. This was a big change where people started to settle in villages and cities and sell their goods and services. A completely new way of living and working.
• In the industrial revolution, we moved from small groups working with their hands to large organized departments working with Machines. Automation of manual work with machines was the trigger. This is where Corporations were eventually born. Another significant transformation in the way we live and work.
• And in The Next Age™, we are fundamentally changing everything about the way we are used to working in the Industrial Age. The Next Age™ started around the year 2000 when early-adopting technology companies started developing platforms with Next Age architected technology. The year exponential technology became mainstream and the move accelerated was 2007.
The Year 2007
Here’s an interesting side note on the year 2007. Many people are familiar with the book The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman. He also wrote the book Thank You for Being Late. Chapter 2 is titled “What the Hell Happened in 2007”. I recommend reading the entire chapter/book, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the things conceived and launched in 2007: the iPhone, Hadoop, GitHub, Android, Twitter, and Facebook take off, Kindle, ATT software-defined network, Airbnb was conceived, internet users crossed the 1b mark, Watson began to be built, Intel created new materials, it was the beginning of clean power industry, the cost of DNA sequencing began to shift dramatically, and more!
Signs of the Move to The Next Age™
Moving from one age to the next requires a trigger followed by transformation. Transformation in this context is defined as a substantial and dramatic change in operations, processes, and structures to run a business.
Another sign we are in transition to The Next Age™ is the speed of business. Business is accelerating, we all feel this daily. Have you ever stopped to wonder why? This acceleration is largely due to rapid development of new technologies. In fact, technology is now being released at an exponential rate. Exponential growth in technology is the trigger for the move to The Next Age™. The challenge is, the adoption of these new technologies is lagging.
Early on in Thomas Friedman’s book Thank You for Being Late, he shows a chart by Eric Teller. The chart shows that technology is already on the exponential part of its curve, however human adaptability is not, in fact, it has fallen behind and caused a gap.
The impact this has on our businesses is profound. Do you have things in your business which used to work really well, and now not so much? Why is this the case?
Time to Transform is Now
It’s important we move now into adopting the transformation needed to keep our businesses relevant and growing strong. Interestingly, small business is moving somewhat organically into the next age partly out of necessity and partly because small businesses are comprised of small, nimble teams.
To fill the gap between exponential technology growth and human adaptability, it’s important to change the way we work. The reality is companies need to exit the Industrial Age and enter The Next Age™. Here are some of the key ways to change the way you work in The Next Age™:
- Practice Extreme Customer Centricity
- Work in small, end to end knowledgeable teams focused on customer micro-segments
- Adopt a Digitally Expanded Mindset™
- Master the Digital Flow Framework™
No matter the size of your business, companies in The Next Age™ work in small end-to-end knowledgeable teams with an extreme focus on the customer. For large companies and enterprises, this is a huge change requiring the breakdown of traditional siloed departments and micro-segmentation of the customer base. Extreme Customer Centricity means everyone understands the customer at a very deep level with strategy and process in place to solve customers’ issues, even when not part of the traditional product and service offerings of your company.
The opportunity is immense. Since small businesses naturally operate this way, there is an opportunity for mid and large size companies to learn from and be serviced by small companies. Of course, this may require a mindset change in large enterprises. Beyond the mindset change required for businesses of all sizes to work together, is the need to adopt a Digitally Expanded Mindset.
There are 5 aspects to a Digitally Expanded Mindset:
- Behaviors and attitudes that see possibility in the digital era
- A belief in the power of technology
- An abundance mentality
- Comfort with ambiguity
- A growth outlook
You can read more about the 5 aspects of a Digitally Expanded Mindset in the article: Digital Mindset: 5 Aspects that Drive Digital Transformation4 published in the August 2019 edition of enGAge.
The transformation from one age to the next is no small feat. The best way to approach the transformation is to think of it as a journey where you break down the changes into several steps. There are 3 areas that need to be addressed: Talent, Operations, and Technology. The Digital Flow Framework™ breaks these areas down in detail. You can read more in the Forbes Article: Business Transformation Part 1: The Journey from Traditional Business to Digital Business.5
Lessons from History
There is a lot to learn from the transition we made to the Industrial Revolution starting centuries ago. The industrial revolution was a term popularized by the English economic historian Arnold Toynbee in the second half of the 1800s. He coined the term to describe Britain’s economic development starting in 1760 – so it was named the Industrial Revolution nearly 100 years after it started6. This first Industrial Revolution was dominated by Britain that innovated first and adapted faster. Many other countries fell significantly behind from an economic standpoint. Britain’s vast economic development of the time created wealth and global significance. The second and third industrial
About the Author:
Kerrie is passionate about business transformation and getting as many companies as possible on their journey to The Next Age™. Kerrie is a #1 Bestselling Business Author and CEO of Hoffman Digital, an ecosystem of companies “Igniting the Human Experience at Work”. This includes Strategic Advisor at GAVS, Partner at Get Digital Velocity, and Digital Advisor at FocalPoint Business Coaching.