Adapt or Die: Surviving the Digital Transformation

As part of my personal commitment to ongoing education, I attend numerous technical and business conferences each year. A common theme is obvious at each one and I felt obligated to share this information with my friends and business associates. To begin, let’s look at a few very interesting statistics.

A digital transformation is being made right now — with or without you. Businesses that have converted their businesses to the new models (focusing on efficiency and embracing technology) will generate 45% of their revenue from these new changes.

• It wasn’t long ago the average age of a company was 60 years old. Now it is 12 years.
• 50% of the workforce will be Millennials by 2020 – yes 2020!
• 38% of the jobs that people choose in the next 12 years have not yet been invented.

Let that information sink in a bit. As a business owner, this information should be a wake up call to you. I know it was for me. Travelling to New York, DC, San Diego, Las Vegas, Houston, Nashville and Tampa over the past year has shown me that we are somewhat isolated by living in central North Carolina. The business world is expanding at a rapid and unprecedented rate. Everyone has heard the phrase “if you are not growing then you are dying”. That statement may be more true than ever right now. Actual growth rates and expectations in other parts of the country are much higher than I expected.

Most companies I work with would be happy with a 10 to 15% growth rate year after year. What I am learning is that average growth in this day and age is more like 25%. That means if you are only growing at 10% then your competitors will soon be eating your lunch. I recently heard Robert Herjavic (of Shark Tank fame) speak in Nashville about this very subject. His goal is 30% growth each year just to stay in the game. 40% and greater is the real goal to dominate your field.

Run your numbers. Where do you stand?? Is 10% AGR good enough for you to still be around in 5 years? Remember, the average age of a modern company is only 12 years. A good history with past accomplishments is no insurance against obsolescence. Look at the PanAm’s, BlockBusters, Sports Authority’s, Circuit City’s and Toys-R-Us of the world. They had a great run but are now just memories. They had ample resources but did not adapt to the modern age and it cost them dearly. Some were gone seamingly overnight.

I don’t throw this information out there to scare you. I do it to encourage you. The opportunities we all have are staggering right now. Our grandfathers couldn’t begin to imagine communicating with people all over the world in an instant or having expert information at our fingertips anytime we need it. The technology is here to do great things and my goal for ComTech is to help you adopt it. Not just adopt it because it is the latest tech but adopt it because it makes a real difference in your business. We all must become faster, more capable and more agile to deliver a great experience to our customers. If we don’t, then someone else will.

One of the statistics above talks about Millenials. Love them or hate them — they are here and in force. Since they will very quickly represent 50% of the workforce, I suggest you embrace them and feed off their abundant energy and enthusiasm. I have hired several lately and greatly enjoy their eagerness and new ideas. However, Millenials are not like you and I. We were brought up as 9 to 5 workaholics who love to stretch that out to 75 hours each week and are proud of it. We’ve always slogged it out with whatever tools we could get and did the most we could with the least investment possible. Sound familiar? That is the old way and it worked quite well. Many of us have built successful businesses in that manner.

Millenials prefer a more relaxed environment – even working from home if possible. They have grown up with technology and expect it to be a part of their lives and workplace. Deny them modern tools and they will go elsewhere. Do I need to mention again that Millenials will shortly comprise 50% of the workforce? If your business is still doing things the same way it was 25 years ago then don’t expect to be hiring any Millenials. You just eliminated 50% of the employment pool my friend by sticking to your guns and refusing to change. Money doesn’t make a difference either. They are more after quality of life than the dollar. Give them fast new sexy tech and they are happier than having a bigger paycheck. Put them on a slow computer or a 10 pound 2 inch thick laptop and you might as well help them login to since they won’t be with you for long.

I liken it to using a hand saw vs a power saw. Yes, you can build a house the old way and have a fantastic finished product. Hand saws have worked for hundreds of years just fine. But what happened to the contractor that refused to change when the power saws hit the market? I think you get the point. Don’t put an anchor on your employees and kill their efficiency. Power saws are available for everyone and are an investment in your staff, your company and ultimately your profits. Look around your office right now and see how many “hand saws” are still being used.

I certainly feel this same pain. I am in the tech business and immersed in it daily. Even so, I have to face these same challenges and find ways to embrace new technology. It’s my responsibility to sift it out, determine what is fluff, determine what is real, then deliver that solution to my clients in an easy to use way. Considering how fast tech is changing, this is quite an undertaking. Fortunately I have a great team around me and together we are brainstorming ideas, testing the new tech and finding ways to deliver it to you our clients. Virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cloud and much more are not only on the horizon — they are here. Other companies are using them and leap frogging those who ignore what is going on around them. I don’t want to be one of those companies left behind and I sure don’t want you to be either.

Please keep an eye out for more articles about this subject. I would love to hear your input and suggestions for more content. What are some of your stumbling blocks and challenges? I will do my best to deliver content you can actually use.

In the meantime, please consider this article and where your company stands. Does everyone complain about slow machines, are you using antiquated software, do you have a cloud presence, etc.? Basically, are you still doing things exactly the same way you were last year or even ten years ago?? There are changes happening and refusing to acknowledge them (with your head in the sand) can literally put your business at risk. Our goal is to be more of a solutions based company and honor our namesake. I sincerely look forward to what the near future has to bring for all of us.

Today’s blog author is Mike Farlow, Chief Operating Officer at ComTech

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