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You’ve heard the cliché – the only constant in life is change. I have always believed and embraced that. My first job right out of school was in sales. I remember my manager telling me “things are changing, the competition is increasing – we need to differentiate in order to win business”.

Fast-forward about twenty years – and this resonates even more than it did then. These days, I hear the word “transformation” and “disruption” a lot. A number of industries are in the midst of transformation and disruption. If you operate in retail, healthcare, travel/ leisure, financial services – your organization is probably in the middle of one.

Some organizations are going through a transformation because they are now chasing new customers; new demographics, new markets – and these organizations now need to build capabilities that they did not possess. Others are being disrupted – either due to technology or regulation.

At a high level, these changes are occurring due one of the following or their combination:

  • Information/ Big data with increased computing power – enabling organizations to mine their data with increasing precision and take better consumer focused decisions. P&G is uses advanced analytics across all aspects of P&G’s operations – from how it creates molecules in its R&D labs to how it maintains relationships with retailers, manufactures products, builds brands, and interacts with customers.
  • Mobile revolution – has redefined the way businesses interact with their customers. You can now deposit a check to your savings account without ever having to go to a ATM machine.
  • Social media – is having a profound impact on how consumers interact with businesses. Research showed that an increase in one star rating on Yelp can have an impact of as much as 9% on revenues for small businesses.

In the last few years, entry barriers for new comers in a number of industries have gone down dramatically. “Disrupters” can emerge from anywhere, and can take on an established industry. Uber is challenging the traditional taxi-models in established markets; as is Airbnb; which is creating an alternate model to the traditional hotel industry. Then there is new technology like 3D printing at the cusp of commercialization, and “the internet of things” waiting in the wings. These technologies will bring further changes to some established business models with them.

Regardless of which industry you operate in, change will come with an accelerating pace. Let me take you back in time – just by about 5 years. There were probably a couple of large programs, and a handful of decent sized projects (I shy away from numbers because its size of a project is relative to the size of the organization). Five years later, the numbers have multiplied, probably by a factor of 2 or 3.

What does this mean? Will things ever go back to “normal” or is this the “new normal”…? I think that there may never be  “a new normal”. If anything, the rate of pace is only going to increase. It may be pointless to fight this or even try to stem the rate of change.

The only question that needs to be answered is: “how will you and your organization deal with this?”

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