Dr Ross McKenzie The Startup Business

Why A Service Culture Is Essential For New Economy Businesses

I have never met Al Gore in person, though I have attended his lectures and read his books and publications.

My view is that he is a very forward looking and positive individual, despite the subject matter he typically speaks about today.

Depending on where you’re coming from, you may associate him as the former US Vice President, with a long and respected career in politics, as is the case with many of his peers, regardless of what side of the aisle you may stand. Or perhaps more recently, you may associate him with the message around global warming?

For me, I go back to his 2013 book – The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, because here he highlighted very clearly the impact of artificial intelligence, robots and automation (we call these AI.R.A technologies today), long before it became a main stream conversation of urgency in business to address.

But in the last twelve months there have been additional voices adding to the dialogue around “robots”.

For example, in March 2017, Bill Gates suggested a tax on robots that take human jobs.

In April 2017, I had the opportunity to join a panel of speakers at the Annual Investment Meeting Congress in Dubai to discuss the impact of robotics on emerging nations with 15,000 delegates.

Then as recently as 17th July 2017, Elon Musk calls for increased regulatory oversight into AI.

Robots will be able to do everything better than us (Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX)

That is why regardless of your individual perspectives, you must stop and think for a moment what Gore, Gates, Musk and others see, that many currently do not?

And while I am also optimistic like Gore, I am also of the same view and have no doubt what so ever, that we will all be impacted – if not already.

So that is why when I am speaking to businesses or professionals, a common thread is about future proofing yourself in this New Economy.

What helped us, what contributed to our successes so far, will not necessarily cut it going forward.

As individuals, we need to acquire new skills.

For existing businesses, it is about acquiring new capabilities, and for startups, it’s about doing things fundamentally different.

In other words, this is about “re-wiring” yourself from the old ways and paradigms and this must be at the core, otherwise you will not be sustainable.

To do this in business, is about assessing the value proposition in everything you do. Whether this be how you market, how you onboard new clients, deliver services or develop new services (or products), value must be present.

Now of course value can be measured in numerous ways – above the line, bottom line, or triple line.

To help you do this, there are four things you need to do…

Firstly, this starts with a set of organising principles so that you have the right structures in place for your business for the New Economy. This is about architecture and as we know there are some really bad designs out there, which just do not work! So regardless of your size today, let’s get this aspect right so that you can scale and be sustainable.

Secondly, you need to evaluate the right technologies that are both agile and scalable for your unique set of circumstances – a cookie cutter “plug in” approach will not work. Integration is essential here as you need to be turning data into insights.

Third, you need to assess the right partnerships and collaborations in which there are synergies that compliment and supplement your business. Too often I see supplier relationships that are just transactional – you have to shift these to strategic partnerships of value.

Fourth, you need to keep “re-wiring” yourself and your team, to new opportunities and adjust or respond to new threats. This is about ensuring you are fully optimised or have the right performance in place all the time.

In addition to these four areas, at The Startup Business we also believe in doing something else and is very much aligned to our values, Learn, Lead, Legacy. This is about service, or more specifically about the “imperative to serve”. We do not always get this right, we do make mistakes. However, we do believe it helps us ensure we are continually providing value.

So, whether you are an optimist like Al Gore (and myself), or maybe visionaries like Gates and Musk, or just a pragmatist, transitioning to the New Economy is possible regardless of where you are right now and the external changes that are possibly impacting you.

You just need to get on to it, because if you do not, the consequences will be dire.