Likewise, since customers are consumer technology leaders’ most reliable source of successful new ideas, it’s imperative to proactively put systems in place that can help frontline employees better monitor shoppers’ shifting needs, and rapidly adapt business strategies based on their feedback.
In uncertain times, tech industry pros reveal, you must take more chances. However, these risks should come in the form of smart, cost-effective bets on new initiatives (e.g. new product solutions or customer outreach campaigns) that can help you quickly gain deeper insights into changing customer preferences to make more informed strategic decisions.
For 65 years, Elmer's Products has been creating glues and adhesives under the direction of individual executives, who decided which products to make and when. But recently, the market began changing so fast, the company needed to create new ideas to appeal to younger audiences, especially millennials that are becoming parents.
So, Elmer’s created a website where employees can suggest innovative new concepts. It also put out open calls for partners, vendors and even the public to submit ideas. Thousands of submissions later, Elmer’s is cranking out more successful concepts faster than ever. In fact, its cutting-edge School Glue Naturals line — created in partnership with a supplier — is one of the first and most successful natural products to appear in classrooms nationwide.
Worth remembering: Many high-tech organizations can go from concept to execution in less than 30 days. Likewise, our consulting firm has multibillion-dollar clients rolling out new apps every six weeks for $20,000 apiece all year round — just for the learning experiences they provide. If you want to get better at operating in a world where customer needs and competitive landscapes are continually shifting, challenge your team to think differently. Put communications tools in place that give workers the ability to help great ideas bubble from the bottom up.
The trick to succeeding in disruptive environments is to encourage your team to apply fresh strategies and solutions, track results and improve your approaches based on market feedback. It’s also important to promote entrepreneurial thinking throughout the organization — and give people room to focus on long-term goals by providing the tools, time, freedom and support that they need to reimagine everything.
Routinely review the impact of your company’s initiatives, and reallocate funds being poured into less well-performing programs into those poised to make a real impact. Likewise, move your organization’s focus away from strictly short-term cost-cutting to steadily reinvesting in long-term growth.
Finding ways to stay relevant is easy when you keep an open mind and encourage your people to apply new strategies. Forget the phrase “thinking outside of the box.” If you’re thinking right, there are no boxes in place to begin with.
The bottom line is: Embrace change and reinvention — the more you do, the more you can grow, stay competitive and create the future you choose, whatever tomorrow may bring.
i3, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry. Subscriptions to i3 are available free to qualified participants in the consumer electronics industry.