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How can you today in Lebanon build a strategic plan for your company if you don’t have certainty about the future? what should Lebanese retailers, Mall owners, industrials, distributors and services providers do in the wake of the systemic shifts in the economy post-crisis?
That’s like laying the foundations of your house on a ground that might move or shift in any direction as you move towards the future.

The reality is that today every Lebanese organization is finding extreme difficulties in formulating what should be their next decision and what will the future holds.

Shall we continue to wait & see? Will our business shrink? Should we start looking into alternatives & substitutes? Which ones? What could be the legal & financial restrictions impacts? Etc.
We all normally agree that decision making should be based more on data and analysis than simple intuition and gut feelings. But there are two problems here: First, data and information will be difficult to gather as things change by the hour. Second, in the current country turmoils, previous data will tell us more about the past but gives us absolutely no indication about the future.

Make it Plausible with Scenario Planning.
Scenario Planning is not about predicting the future in a crystal ball but making assumptions on what the future is going to be and how your business environment will change overtime in light of that future. Scenario Planning aims to define your critical uncertainties and develop plausible scenarios in order to discuss the impacts and the responses to give for each one of them.

Among the many tools a manager can use for strategic planning, scenario planning stands out for its ability to capture a whole range of possibilities in rich detail. By identifying basic trends and uncertainties, management can construct a series of scenarios that will help to compensate for the usual errors in decision making — Low or overconfidence and tunnel vision.

The issue could be a narrow one: whether to make a particular investment, for example, Should a supermarket put millions into more out-of-town megastores and their attendant car parks, or should it invest in secure websites and a fleet of vans to make door-to-door deliveries?
Farmers use scenarios to predict whether the harvest will be good or bad, depending on the weather. It helps them forecast their sales but also their future investments. The scenarios that Royal Dutch/Shell used to anticipate the drop in oil prices in 1986. The scenarios a major computer manufacturer used to navigate its transition from products to services. The scenarios Xerox used to anticipate the convergence of the copier and printer or American Express used to deal with the replacement of traveler's checks by credit cards. Each organization needs its own scenarios to face its own challenges.
Other well known examples include when blue chip companies explored the end of the Berlin Wall, OPEC oil price rises, bombs and terrorist attacks. Asking the great What if? helps Identifying risk and opportunities that could arise from such events puts companies in a better situation to adapt & thrive.

So how to use scenario planning?



As you can see from the above illustration, scenario development process holds 4 critical steps. After identifying the driving forces and critical uncertainties for the months or years to come, the objectives is to develop 4 distinct scenarios that are most likely to happen. The best way to perform all of these steps is to organize workshops during which all the participants brainstorm together, it will help you find creative solutions.

The process to create scenarios is to:
  • Identify your driving forces: To start, we discuss what are going to be the big shifts in society, economics, technology and politics in the future and see how it will affect your company.
  • Identify your critical uncertainties: Once we have identified your driving forces and made it a list, pick up only two (those that have the most impact on your business). For example, two of the most important uncertainties for agribusiness companies are food prices and weather forecast. 
  • Develop a range of plausible scenarios: The goal is now to form a kind of matrix with your two critical uncertainties. Depending on what direction each of the uncertainties will take, we are able to draw four possible scenarios for the future. 
  • Discuss the implications: During this final step, we discuss the various implications and impacts of each scenario and start to reconsider your strategy: set your mission and your goals while taking into account every scenario.
It sounds simple, however, building this set of assumptions is probably the best thing you can ever do to help guide your organization in the long term.

If you're interested in learning more about how to do scenario planning, how to get alignment on your strategic plan, or learn how to lead your team through the process with our help, do contact us today!

Joe Ayoub- brandcell consulting
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In February I wrote an article describing how even if political stability is ensured, it will not solve the economic crisis and companies turmoil unless some radical mindset shift is operated.
Today we are in the middle of a mega multi-sided crisis (political-financial- social), the post- October 17th Lebanon will not only witness a radical shift in political, macro-economical & social aspects but also and especially in business.

Companies have to accept that that it will not be able to re-ignite their operation with a 'Business as usual' mindset. The young generation that defied the legal authorities and shook the grounds beneath a corrupt and outdated system will do the same inside the institutions where they work. They will demand transparency, equality, rights to learn & progress and be aware about the vision & purpose of their entreprise.

On the other spectrum, companies that innovate in terms of employee engagement and business models will reap unique competitive advantages. therefore, it is imperative to connect these two facets in a new social contract to liberate new energies and certainly new growth opportunities that will benefit both stakeholders.

How can that be accomplished? While businesses are in the 'wait & see' mode for political solutions, they must urgently use this time to rethink their modus operandi on all levels:

What are the opportunities to change & innovate that you would not have done in normal circumstances due to inertia and lack of time?
  1. Will your value proposition be relevant in the post-thawra time? do you need to shift your model from products-to-service-to experience or vice-versa? are the current channels to market still viable or you need to explore new more cost effective ways (digital & other)
  2. Will your Strategy stand within the new market changes? What new offerings, new customers or Customer Experience can you design & develop with the current ressources & capabilities that you acquired?
  3. How can you re-allocate your human & financial resources to support the new directions? How can you leverage your key people to play an active part in shaping the company of tomorrow? what skills they need in strategic thinking and analytics?
  4. What new partnerships you can forge to spread risks and explore new market potential?
The common answer to all the above is INNOVATION. Not in terms of technology or invention as some might think of it but in terms accepting and applying new mindset, methods, tools & approach to solve such problems that this crisis unleashed upon the country. Traditional thinking & solutions will simply fail to address these wicked challenges.

The new solutions will have to be designed around:
  • Empathy for employees and customers
  • Co-created with employees and customers
  • Prototyped to fail quickly & learn fast
  • Implemented with utmost engagement and with appropriate systems & procedures.
The good news is that you are not alone. You can always get the help of experts and we at Brandcell amongst others have been helping progressive companies to thrive in difficult & unpredictable times by showing what strategy & innovation can do to unlock new growth so that times of troubles are turned into opportunities.


Joe Ayoub- Brandcell consulting
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For innovative businesses, one of the crucial roles that data plays is proving to a sometimes sceptical audience that your product provides a new solution to a recurrent problem.
You know that your idea will change the world – but gathering facts and figures to convince other people is much simpler when you have a thorough data strategy in place.

At this point in the digital age, acting on “gut instinct” when it comes to making operational decisions are long gone. Today all elements of a business’s operations – design, production, distribution, marketing, customer services – can be monitored, measured and analyzed.

This means that businesses which have engaged with the processes of digital transformation will have facts and figures on hand to get across not just what they do, but why (and how) they do it more effectively than anyone else. If you are innovating, this is the essence of the idea that you have to “sell”, to position yourself as a market leader.

One business I have recently come across with an innovative – potentially world-changing –product  is the UK food technology company It’s Fresh!. In a world where millions go starving despite one third of the food we produce going to waste, they claim their packaging product can reduce waste by 45% - and they have the data to prove it.
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Just how do major organizations use data and analytics to inform strategic and operational decisions? Senior leaders provide insight into the challenges and opportunities.
Few dispute that organizations have more data than ever at their disposal. But actually deriving meaningful insights from that data—and converting knowledge into action—is easier said than done. We spoke with six senior leaders from major organizations and asked them about the challenges and opportunities involved in adopting advanced analytics: Murli Buluswar, chief science officer at AIG; Vince Campisi, chief information officer at GE Software; Ash Gupta, chief risk officer at American Express; Zoher Karu, vice president of global customer optimization and data at eBay; Victor Nilson, senior vice president of big data at AT&T; and Ruben Sigala, chief analytics officer at Caesars Entertainment. An edited transcript of their comments follows.


Challenges organizations face in adopting analytics

Murli Buluswar, chief science officer, AIG: The biggest challenge of making the evolution from a knowing culture to a learning culture—from a culture that largely depends on heuristics in decision making to a culture that is much more objective and data driven and embraces the power of data and technology—is really not the cost. Initially, it largely ends up being imagination and inertia.

What I have learned in my last few years is that the power of fear is quite tremendous in evolving oneself to think and act differently today, and to ask questions today that we weren’t asking about our roles before. And it’s that mind-set change—from an expert-based mind-set to one that is much more dynamic and much more learning oriented, as opposed to a fixed mind-set—that I think is fundamental to the sustainable health of any company, large, small, or medium.

Ruben Sigala, chief analytics officer, Caesars Entertainment: What we found challenging, and what I find in my discussions with a lot of my counterparts that is still a challenge, is finding the set of tools that enable organizations to efficiently generate value through the process. I hear about individual wins in certain applications, but having a more sort of cohesive ecosystem in which this is fully integrated is something that I think we are all struggling with, in part because it’s still very early days. Although we’ve been talking about it seemingly quite a bit over the past few years, the technology is still changing; the sources are still evolving.

Zoher Karu, vice president, global customer optimization and data, eBay: One of the biggest challenges is around data privacy and what is shared versus what is not shared. And my perspective on that is consumers are willing to share if there’s value returned. One-way sharing is not going to fly anymore. So how do we protect and how do we harness that information and become a partner with our consumers rather than kind of just a vendor for them?


Capturing impact from analytics

Ruben Sigala: You have to start with the charter of the organization. You have to be very specific about the aim of the function within the organization and how it’s intended to interact with the broader business. There are some organizations that start with a fairly focused view around support on traditional functions like marketing, pricing, and other specific areas. And then there are other organizations that take a much broader view of the business. I think you have to define that element first.

That helps best inform the appropriate structure, the forums, and then ultimately it sets the more granular levels of operation such as training, recruitment, and so forth. But alignment around how you’re going to drive the business and the way you’re going to interact with the broader organization is absolutely critical. From there, everything else should fall in line. That’s how we started with our path.

Vince Campisi, chief information officer, GE Software: One of the things we’ve learned is when we start and focus on an outcome, it’s a great way to deliver value quickly and get people excited about the opportunity. And it’s taken us to places we haven’t expected to go before. So we may go after a particular outcome and try and organize a data set to accomplish that outcome. Once you do that, people start to bring other sources of data and other things that they want to connect. And it really takes you in a place where you go after a next outcome that you didn’t anticipate going after before. You have to be willing to be a little agile and fluid in how you think about things. But if you start with one outcome and deliver it, you’ll be surprised as to where it takes you next.

Ash Gupta, chief risk officer, American Express: The first change we had to make was just to make our data of higher quality. We have a lot of data, and sometimes we just weren’t using that data and we weren’t paying as much attention to its quality as we now need to. That was, one, to make sure that the data has the right lineage, that the data has the right permissible purpose to serve the customers. This, in my mind, is a journey. We made good progress and we expect to continue to make this progress across our system.

The second area is working with our people and making certain that we are centralizing some aspects of our business. We are centralizing our capabilities and we are democratizing its use. I think the other aspect is that we recognize as a team and as a company that we ourselves do not have sufficient skills, and we require collaboration across all sorts of entities outside of American Express. This collaboration comes from technology innovators, it comes from data providers, it comes from analytical companies. We need to put a full package together for our business colleagues and partners so that it’s a convincing argument that we are developing things together, that we are colearning, and that we are building on top of each other.


Examples of impact

Victor Nilson, senior vice president, big data, AT&T: We always start with the customer experience. That’s what matters most. In our customer care centers now, we have a large number of very complex products. Even the simple products sometimes have very complex potential problems or solutions, so the workflow is very complex. So how do we simplify the process for both the customer-care agent and the customer at the same time, whenever there’s an interaction?

We’ve used big data techniques to analyze all the different permutations to augment that experience to more quickly resolve or enhance a particular situation. We take the complexity out and turn it into something simple and actionable. Simultaneously, we can then analyze that data and then go back and say, “Are we optimizing the network proactively in this particular case?” So, we take the optimization not only for the customer care but also for the network, and then tie that together as well.

Vince Campisi: I’ll give you one internal perspective and one external perspective. One is we are doing a lot in what we call enabling a digital thread—how you can connect innovation through engineering, manufacturing, and all the way out to servicing a product. [For more on the company’s “digital thread” approach, see “GE’s Jeff Immelt on digitizing in the industrial space.”] And, within that, we’ve got a focus around brilliant factory. So, take driving supply-chain optimization as an example. We’ve been able to take over 60 different silos of information related to direct-material purchasing, leverage analytics to look at new relationships, and use machine learning to identify tremendous amounts of efficiency in how we procure direct materials that go into our product.

An external example is how we leverage analytics to really make assets perform better. We call it asset performance management. And we’re starting to enable digital industries, like a digital wind farm, where you can leverage analytics to help the machines optimize themselves. So you can help a power-generating provider who uses the same wind that’s come through and, by having the turbines pitch themselves properly and understand how they can optimize that level of wind, we’ve demonstrated the ability to produce up to 10 percent more production of energy off the same amount of wind. It’s an example of using analytics to help a customer generate more yield and more productivity out of their existing capital investment.


Winning the talent war

Ruben Sigala: Competition for analytical talent is extreme. And preserving and maintaining a base of talent within an organization is difficult, particularly if you view this as a core competency. What we’ve focused on mostly is developing a platform that speaks to what we think is a value proposition that is important to the individuals who are looking to begin a career or to sustain a career within this field.

When we talk about the value proposition, we use terms like having an opportunity to truly affect the outcomes of the business, to have a wide range of analytical exercises that you’ll be challenged with on a regular basis. But, by and large, to be part of an organization that views this as a critical part of how it competes in the marketplace—and then to execute against that regularly. In part, and to do that well, you have to have good training programs, you have to have very specific forms of interaction with the senior team. And you also have to be a part of the organization that actually drives the strategy for the company.
Murli Buluswar: I have found that focusing on the fundamentals of why science was created, what our aspirations are, and how being part of this team will shape the professional evolution of the team members has been pretty profound in attracting the caliber of talent that we care about. And then, of course, comes the even harder part of living that promise on a day-in, day-out basis.

Yes, money is important. My philosophy on money is I want to be in the 75th percentile range; I don’t want to be in the 99th percentile. Because no matter where you are, most people—especially people in the data-science function—have the ability to get a 20 to 30 percent increase in their compensation, should they choose to make a move. My intent is not to try and reduce that gap. My intent is to create an environment and a culture where they see that they’re learning; they see that they’re working on problems that have a broader impact on the company, on the industry, and, through that, on society; and they’re part of a vibrant team that is inspired by why it exists and how it defines success. Focusing on that, to me, is an absolutely critical enabler to attracting the caliber of talent that I need and, for that matter, anyone else would need.


Developing the right expertise

Victor Nilson: Talent is everything, right? You have to have the data, and, clearly, AT&T has a rich wealth of data. But without talent, it’s meaningless. Talent is the differentiator. The right talent will go find the right technologies; the right talent will go solve the problems out there.

We’ve helped contribute in part to the development of many of the new technologies that are emerging in the open-source community. We have the legacy advanced techniques from the labs, we have the emerging Silicon Valley. But we also have mainstream talent across the country, where we have very advanced engineers, we have managers of all levels, and we want to develop their talent even further.

So we’ve delivered over 50,000 big data related training courses just this year alone. And we’re continuing to move forward on that. It’s a whole continuum. It might be just a one-week boot camp, or it might be advanced, PhD-level data science. But we want to continue to develop that talent for those who have the aptitude and interest in it. We want to make sure that they can develop their skills and then tie that together with the tools to maximize their productivity.

Zoher Karu: Talent is critical along any data and analytics journey. And analytics talent by itself is no longer sufficient, in my opinion. We cannot have people with singular skills. And the way I build out my organization is I look for people with a major and a minor. You can major in analytics, but you can minor in marketing strategy. Because if you don’t have a minor, how are you going to communicate with other parts of the organization? Otherwise, the pure data scientist will not be able to talk to the database administrator, who will not be able to talk to the market-research person, who which will not be able to talk to the email-channel owner, for example. You need to make sound business decisions, based on analytics, that can scale.
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The world is advancing at a breakneck pace on many fronts, especially when it comes to technology, innovation, and modern experience. We’ve gone from largely offline, one-on-one consumer experiences through desktop platforms to highly personalized, contextually relevant mobile and adaptive ones.
But deploying big data and AI — or machine learning — collectively is about more than just making sense of data: it’s about putting it to use. Companies can leverage the actionable intel they gain through advanced metrics to build better campaigns, make more informed decisions and even predict customer behavior. In advertising and marketing, for instance, big data and AI can help make ad copy more profitable. By aligning content with the five components of successful copy and automating its delivery, you can ensure it has a widespread and optimal impact. Thanks to the gig economy, companies are also now able to hire data scientists online, from across borders.

Just to show you a little of the power behind these technologies, we’re going to take a closer look at some companies and brands using such platforms to improve performance and efficiency and deliver better customer experiences. Here are 5 real-world examples of companies using big data and AI to boost sales, deliver personalized experiences and improve their products.


1. Starbucks

The obvious — and often overhyped —  examples are Amazon, Walmart, and other major retailers. But such use-cases are low-hanging fruit. The reality is, many brands you might not expect are using AI and big data — like Starbucks, for instance.

Personalization is highly valuable to consumers in the modern day and age, as it means faster service, more relevant options, and better all-around experiences. Big data and customer metrics, including real-time information, have made it possible to deliver more targeted service options. Starbucks is at the forefront of this, using their mobile app and vast data stores to display preferred orders to baristas before customers even get to the counter. It also improves performance considerably, speeding up order and service times, especially during the busiest hours.

How does it work? Members of the Starbucks rewards program and mobile app often use it to order drinks, call in future orders and take advantage of exclusive benefits. At the same time, the company uses this service to gather a lot of information about their customers’ habits and buying preferences. That is precisely how they can provide preferred order information to baristas.

But the company also uses this information to build more relevant marketing campaigns and promotions, decide locations for new stores or potential business and even decide future menu updates.


2. Burberry

Burberry, a prominent British fashion brand, is also using big data and AI to boost performance, sales and customer satisfaction.

Naturally, their customers make use of loyalty and rewards programs through a mobile app. For those actively using such services, Burberry asks them to share data and uses the information they gather to deliver relevant recommendations for both online and in-store products.

Most interesting is how this translates into the conventional brick-and-mortar Burberry stores. Sales assistants and company reps have access to company-owned tablets that provide buying suggestions and additional information about select customers. Employees can see a customer’s purchase history, their preferences and even social media activity. They can use this data to provide a more personalized experience, which can help boost sales.

For example, let’s say you buy a blouse online. When you visit the store, an employee can see this purchase and recommend matching handbags or accessories. They can even suggest items other consumers have bought alongside the same blouse.

Taking this concept of knowledge and digital information in a different direction, all products in Burberry stores have unique RFID tags. When shoppers visit a store, a mobile app experience will communicate with them directly about various goods. They can see where products came from, or even get tips on how to style them. It’s an incredible merger of digital and physical engagement that improves their service and response to customer needs.


3. McDonald’s

The world-famous fast-food joint McDonald’s is embracing modern technology in many ways, including using big data and AI.

Their updated mobile app allows customers to order and pay almost entirely via their mobile devices. To make the experience that much more enjoyable, they gain access to exclusive deals, too. In return for the convenience, McDonald’s collects essential information about their audience.

They can see what foods and services customers order, how often or even whether they visit the drive-thru or go inside. All this data allows for more targeted promotions and offers. In fact, Japanese customers using the company’s mobile app spend an average of 35 percent more because of spot-on recommendations just before they are ready to order food.


4. Spotify

Spotify is not unlike Netflix in how it uses AI and big data to deliver better playlists and streaming content recommendations to its users. The Discover Weekly feature is an excellent example of this in action. Each week, Spotify offers every user a personalized playlist with music recommendations based on their listening and browsing history. It’s kind of like a curated mixtape from the platform, offering new tracks and artists, showing you new genres you might enjoy or even updating you on your favorite music.

This feature is possible thanks to a vast trove of information and data they collect from their user base. When you have millions of people listening to music every day, you gain some pretty deep insights into user habits and preferences.

The company has also launched a “Spotify for Artists” app that lets bands and music artists see analytics related to their content.


5. The North Face

If you’re not familiar with The North Face, they are a prominent clothing vendor that offers both outdoor-friendly and active fashions. They’ve tapped into artificial intelligence and machine learning — thanks to IBM’s Watson — to deliver a highly personalized customer experience, all delivered via a mobile app.

Upon download, customers can speak directly to their phone to engage with Watson. The system then works just like a human salesperson, in that it walks them through various questions and shopping experiences and then delivers custom recommendations. The answers you provide during the initial phase and how you react help shape the system’s future interactions with you.

For example, one question might be, “What features do you want in your jacket?” Your response will determine the products and goods Watson recommends to you.

Machine Learning and AI Platforms Are Helping Shape the Modern Experience
In many ways, these technologies will improve performance and efficiency for business while simultaneously modernizing experiences for consumers. Just consider the myriad ways in which you can now receive highly personalized and contextually relevant content or recommendations, based on something as simple as your recent purchase history.

This information can improve a plethora of business-centric strategies, too, such as marketing and advertising, partner relations and future decisions. It’s hard to believe, but the future we’ve seen portrayed in sci-fi movies — where bots and technology permeate our daily lives — is here.
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It’s time to take today’s technological threats seriously and change the way you do business.
If you haven’t noticed, a high-stakes global game of digital disruption is currently under way. It is fueled by the latest wave of technology: advances in artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics, the Internet of Things, and new software-enabled industrial platforms that incorporate all these technologies and more. Every enterprise leader recognizes that, as a result, the prevailing business models in his or her industry could drastically and fundamentally change. A wide range of industries, such as entertainment and media, military contracting, and grocery retail have already been profoundly affected. No enterprise, including yours, can afford to ignore the threat. Yet most companies are still not moving fast enough to meet this change. Some leaders are still in denial about it, some are reluctant to upend the status quo in their companies, and some are unaware of the necessary steps to take. But these excuses are not good enough.

If your company is aleady struggling, then digital disruption will accentuate your problems. You may not have needed a plan for the new digital age yet, if only because it didn’t seem relevant to your industry. But you will need it now. Otherwise, no matter how well you run your business, it will not produce results at a scale that will allow you to compete. The companies with a clearly differentiated identity — those that stand apart from the crowd — are in the best position to thrive. For every company, this is an immense opportunity to rethink every aspect of the business, and chart a bold path for success.

Disruption, by our definition, means a shift in relative profitability from one prevailing business model to another. The dominant companies, accustomed to the old approach, lose market share to a new group of companies. Not every disruption is driven by advances in technology, but this one is. And because the software fueling this transformation can be applicable across traditional industry and business function boundaries, competitors can emerge from seemingly anywhere. In sector after sector, new entrants are lowering prices, meeting consumer needs in novel ways, making better use of underutilized assets, and hiring people with broadly relevant digital skills, who have collaborative, creative, and efficient work styles.

If you’re skeptical about this, it’s probably because you’ve seen digital technology appear before, without much of an effect on your core business. Even industries that feel pressure will not be completely trransformed. No matter how many people order their paper towels and canned soup online, for example, there will continue to be some brick-and-mortar grocers.

But the wave of disruption that’s cresting now is more comprehensive and far-reaching than any previous wave. Consider what has already happened to less physically based industries, such as media and entertainment. They have had to rework their business models, seeking revenue through social media and new forms of consumer engagement. Industrial and manufacturing companies are following a similar path: embedding logistics systems with sensors, linking supply chains with shared data and robotics, opening the door to innovations in energy and materials, and changing the way that every product is made and delivered.

Your shareholders (particularly activist shareholders), customers, and employees expect you to respond quickly. But panic and full-bore opportunism, in which you pursue every seeming source of revenue, will not work either. The answer is to develop a coherent strategy, seeking out the options that fit best with what you already do well. Here are 10 principles for accomplishing this, drawn from the experience of companies that have done so.


Recognizing the Change

1. Embrace the new logic.
When you first hear about a new digitally enabled competitor, you may tell yourself that company can’t succeed. It’s operating in a narrow niche, and it won’t be profitable at scale. Hundreds of executives of established companies have made this mistake, dismissing such innovations as the photocopier, steel mini-mill, graphical user interface, smartphone-embedded camera, and video streaming service. Instead, view each upstart competitor as a company you can learn from.

There’s always logic behind a new entrant’s business model, a reason it is being introduced. It meets customer needs more effectively than you do (see principle number 4), offers consistently lower prices (principle number 5), or makes better use of assets (principle number 6). Chances are, it does all three. For example, Zume, which makes pizza to order in its oven- and robot-equipped trucks, delivers fresh, inexpensive food to people’s homes rapidly. As of October 2017, it had raised more than US$70 million in venture capital. Although no one can predict whether Zume or another contender will succeed, the general logic of vehicle-based fast-food represents a major threat to low-cost restaurant chains. The very existence of potential disruptors in your industry — especially if they are funded by venture capital — is a sign that your business model is regarded as obsolete. It’s up to you to figure out why, and how you can change it.

In addition to studying your new competitors’ logic, look closely at the assumptions embedded in your company’s current business model. Keep in mind what you know digital technology can do for you. How could you redesign your capabilities to deliver better value than your competitors can? What aspects of your business model could you change to deliver better value, on a grand scale, than any upstart could? What would you have to do differently to make your own disruption work?

Best Buy went through a thought process much like this, and became one of the very few specialty retailers to compete successfully against online retailers such as Amazon. Among the disruptive factors it had to deal with, as New York Times reporter Kevin Roose put it, was “showrooming: customers were testing new products in stores before buying them for less money online from another retailer.” Best Buy chose to disrupt its own business model with a price-matching guarantee, a renewed emphasis on customer consultations (building on its “Geek Squad” experience), new workforce policies to gain a more skilled and loyal employee base, and improved logistics that integrated its online and in-person experiences. (In effect, manufacturers now pay to be included in Best Buy’s “showrooming” array.) These elements added up to a powerful new approach for Best Buy that raised its stock price more than 50 percent in 12 months.

2. Start now, move deliberately.
You have to balance moving reactively and acting strategically when the signs of pending disruption first appear for your industry. “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years,” wrote Bill Gates in his 1995 book The Road Ahead. “And [we] underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

To be sure, it may take a year or more for customers to change their habits at a scale that affects you financially. During this period, you are still relying on your old business model for earnings. But if you don’t start visibly taking steps to change that business model right away, it could affect your company’s market value. Investors are gauging your effectiveness based on their perceptions of the digital threat approaching your industry. If they consider you unprepared, they will have reason to pounce.

At the same time, you have to proceed deliberately and strategically, rather than frantically and reactively. Panic is contagious. You are not looking for quick opportunities — you are plotting the new trajectory of your company. Use this time to develop your own sustainable, digitally enabled value proposition, to build out your own distinctive capabilities, and to sell off or shut down the assets you will no longer need when the disruption fully takes hold.

Be bold and openly declare your intentions. Make it clear to your constituents — not just investors, but employees, suppliers, distributors, and other members of your business ecosystem — that you are preparing your own disruptive innovations. Continually reevaluate and refine your new approach, adjusting it to reflect changes in customer behavior and in your industry. Prototype new products and services and take them to market quickly, testing them with real customers. Bring the best ideas to scale.

When your industry’s changes finally reach a tipping point, it will seem sudden to everyone else. But you’ll know better. Because of your early start, you’ll be ready with the capabilities you need. You can then move fast, seize the advantage, and lead your sector.

Amazon has provided an example of this approach since the 1990s. Starting with books, then branching into other types of retail, and ultimately moving into general logistics and cloud-based computer services, it always had the same game plan: to expand gradually, taking on challenges when it was equipped to do so. It took Amazon 20 years to build up the requisite capabilities to master grocery delivery, an extraordinarily difficult challenge because fresh food can easily spoil. By contrast, Webvan, which also began in the late 1990s, started out with a home food delivery concept, overextended itself trying to cover the then-too-expensive “last mile” to the customer’s door, and went bankrupt.


Building Your Identity

3. Focus on your right to win.

A right to win is the ability to meet challenge after challenge with a reasonable likelihood of success. Instead of relying on a single product or service to define your business, develop a strong identity — a recognizable expression of what your enterprise does well and why it matters — that makes your company truly distinct. Don’t abandon your old business model entirely; build on your existing strengths. In many disrupted industries, the new and old business models continue to coexist: Brick-and-mortar groceries will not go away entirely, just as bric-and-mortar bookstores have not. Combine those core capabilities to create one consistent approach that applies to everything you do. Like Amazon, Apple, IKEA, Starbucks, or other iconic companies, you will send a strong, steady signal of who you are and what customers can expect from you. Or as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen, who developed today’s prevailing concept of disruption, put it: “Decide what you stand for, and then stand for it all the time.”

One company that has gained a right to win is PetSmart, a retailer of pet products and services. In April 2017, PetSmart made the largest e-commerce acquisition in history. It acquired Chewy.com, a pet supply site, for $3.35 billion — just a bit more than Walmart paid for the online store Jet.com around the same time. Chewy provided customer service capabilities that complemented PetSmart’s extensive retail store network and its multiple services (such as boarding hotels, grooming salons, and walk-in pet clinics). Chewy offered a high level of customer interaction, comparable to that of premium retailers such as Nordstrom. The company calls customers proactively to address service problems, and sends cards to thank people for their business. These combined capabilities give PetSmart and Chewy a much clearer identity and way to compete.

You gain your right to win by building and maintaining a system of distinctive cross-functional capabilities — combinations of people, knowledge, IT, tools, structures, and processes, refined and developed over time. To preeminent business historian Alfred D. Chandler Jr., this “integrated learning base” was the single most important factor for business success. You already have some of those capabilities, or you wouldn’t have gotten this far, but you may need to develop or acquire others, as PetSmart did. Orient your business around those key capabilities. Make long-term investments to support them, and divest businesses that don’t fit.

Another prominent example is Honeywell. In the mid-2010s, its right to win enabled Honeywell’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) business to beat back a disruptive threat from Nest and other digital thermostats. Honeywell had a strong distribution capability; its people knew how to maintain strong relationships with HVAC installers and contractors, who referred customers to Honeywell’s digital thermostats instead of those from the startup. This gave the company time to bring its technology up to date.

4. Create your customers’ future.
What does your customers’ future look like? Think about meeting their needs in a more fundamental way, so that they continually want more contact with your company and its offerings. Your mission, as Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson, “is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.” This will require imagination and insight; they won’t be able to articulate it if you ask them. Creating your customers’ future may require an obsessive focus on them. Make their problems go away. Remove the friction in their lives. Make things easier and less complex, while reducing the price they have to pay.

The most effective consumer-oriented companies rely on privileged access to their customers. For example, IKEA has an extensive program for sending executives to the homes of customers, who welcome them because the company has enhanced their daily life. You can also learn a great deal from co-creating your products with customers, involving them in design and development. Adobe Systems, for example, routinely consults with graphics professionals in designing new packages for them. Google and Facebook had a huge advantage in the large number of sophisticated early adopters in their own workforce. The companies continually sampled their employees’ reactions and adapted their offerings accordingly.

As marketing experts have pointed out since at least 1960, when Theodore Levitt’s groundbreaking Harvard Business Review article “Marketing Myopia” was published, customers are most compelled by outcomes: the results your products and services deliver, rather than the products and services themselves. This was how Philips profited from its halogen bulbs, the kind that retailers install in parking lots. Concerned about losing out to makers of lower-priced commodity bulbs, Philips set up a service to change the bulbs when they burned out, and continued its R&D on longer-life bulbs so the costs of that service would go down. Similarly, GE’s aircraft engines, Daimler’s trucks, Tesla’s electric cars, and Siemens’s power systems are all embedded with sensors, designed to provide analytics about not just the machines’ behavior (for better maintenance) but what the customer (the airline, truck driver, or power utility) is doing day after day, and how that experience might be improved.

5. Price to drive demand.
Nearly every significant disruption reduces costs in some way. Customers respond more powerfully to cost reduction than to other types of increases in value. When you set your prices low, you attract customers, scale up your new business model, and force changes that make it more difficult for rivals to compete.

Even high-profile disruptive competitors do not dramatically affect the rest of the industry until they become competitive in price. For example, it was only with its launch of the “affordable” $35,000 Model 3 in 2017 that Tesla began to compete with a wide range of other automakers. For most products and services, it’s best to build your response to disruption by lowering costs and looking for a larger customer base. Often this means using digital technology in inventive ways. Sometimes, as with Amazon and Uber, it involves pricing at a loss for the sake of long-term scalability and market share.

Undoubtedly, you are already diligent about reducing costs. But you may not have gotten in the habit of strategic pricing: cutting costs to drive up demand. A notable example is IKEA, which builds a 1.5 to 2 percent product price reduction into its budget planning every year, as a forcing function. This requires its planners to figure out how to reduce costs significantly, and it has created the kind of customer loyalty that no disruptor can dislodge.

6. Profit from overlooked assets.
Many digital disruptions take advantage of assets that have been underutilized. This approach is feasible because of the way digital technology reduces friction and reveals options. The sharing economy businesses that sell access to unused time in privately owned automobiles, production plants, homes, and office spaces changed their industries by monetizing their assets’ previously unused capacity.

You, too, can disrupt your industry, by identifying ways to create value from underused assets. These may be found anywhere in your business. With a cloud computing installation, you may make more effective use of your computer processing power — and your programmers’ time. Or consider the stockroom of a big-box store. The space is big because of the scaling factor of labor. Once you have paid for the cost of putting in one pallet, putting in the next four is quite cheap. Because digital interoperability makes it easier to process multiple materials and products from multiple vendors, why not share back rooms and warehouse staff?

Overlooked assets don’t have to be physical. They can include proprietary information, continually gathered data, or specialized expertise. For example, the Aravind Eye Hospital in India is one of the most effective cataract treatment centers in the world. It values professional expertise as a specialized asset. Each surgeon treats 10 times as many cataract patients per day, on average, as a similar surgeon would in the United States. The hospital, whose processes were modeled after those of McDonald’s, uses every means possible to focus a skilled surgeon’s time where it matters most: on the cataract operation. Everything else, including administrative work and referrals of complex cases, is handled by someone else.

It may take time to develop a compelling and profitable approach to your assets. The first shared office space enterprises emerged in the early 2000s, but it wasn't until the mid-2010s that companies such as WeWork landed on a format and package that brought the concept mainstream. While you are developing your own approach, consider divesting the assets that hold you back or require ongoing costs. Every asset you own should contribute to, or benefit from, your differentiating capabilities.

7. Control your part of the platform.
Disruptive companies don’t do everything themselves. They rely on the capabilities provided by others. Those capabilities will be more widely available as vast business-to-business platforms emerge: platforms such as Amazon Web Services, GE’s Predix, Siemens’s MindSphere, and the emerging Chinese “Belt and Road” system. A platform is a group of interoperable technologies that provide a basic infrastructure into which applications and processes from a host of companies can fit, working together seamlessly. The new digital platforms will help transform enterprises in the same way that their online predecessors, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, helped change consumer habits. A platform provides access to others on the platform, new ways of creating value from digital assets, and a much greater scale at minimal cost. Just as it’s vital to know what your company is best at, it’s critical to know where you can rely on others’ technology and solutions.

Some companies thrive by becoming platform providers. Salesforce, for example, has used its capabilities in developing software-as-a-service and other cloud-based offerings to build an open ecosystem for sales and customer relationship management that gives the company a distinctive competitive advantage. By incorporating independent developers, system integrators, and consultants into the Salesforce ecosystem, the company has become a hub for a vast number of innovative businesses in multiple sectors, giving Salesforce unique access to information and leading trends.

But you don’t have to own platforms to profit from them. Instead, focus on a part of the platform that gives you a right to win and establishes stable standards for an entire ecosystem. For example, if you are one of many component manufacturers for, say, servers or home-control devices, or one of many developers of similar software apps, you may lose value. But if you carve out a distinctive identity and role within other companies’ ecosystems, you can still draw value to you. You can be like Corning, manufacturing the Gorilla Glass used in the iPhone, along with many other kinds of specialty glass used for automobiles and other smartphones; or like HCL Technologies, which has parlayed its distinctive R&D and consultation capabilities into a refined outsourced technology business serving other high-tech companies.

Because digital technology blurs boundaries among industries, you should use platforms to break free of the constraints of your sector. It is no longer necessary to manage your own supply chain to connect with suppliers and distributors. Apple, famously, is in music and video streaming, information technology hardware and software, Internet services, telephony, timepieces, digital photography, and retail. It is number one in most of those businesses. It doesn’t matter anymore what sector you think Apple is in; Apple is number one at being Apple. It has consolidated its market around one distinct identity.

Choose carefully the platforms you join. Once you are intertwined with them, there may be enormous switching costs if you need to change. Protect your control over your customer data, intellectual property, and distinctive capabilities system.

There may still be an advantage to integrating vertically; as Inditex (Zara), Amazon, and Haier have discovered, it can provide opportunities for differentiating your company. But the best option is to make a more fine-grained assessment of your costs and customers, and design your mix of vertical and horizontal activity accordingly.


Bringing Your Future to Life

8. Integrate, don’t isolate.
The perception that disruption is imminent has many executives scrambling to launch digital side projects in the form of programs, products, and services that can stand on their own. There are many evocative nicknames for these mini-enterprises and isolated projects: Skunkworks. Pirate ships. Special forces. Labs. Quarantined units. The names convey the problem: a basic lack of connection between this subscale unit of activity and the core enterprise.

To be sure, “pirate ships” have more freedom than the rest of the enterprise. They avoid the usual restrictions and requirements, the cultural antibodies that hamper creativity. They can even generate innovative products and services that seem to be the wave of the future. But because they are not integrated with the rest of the company, they don’t have the capabilities or support they need to be sustainable. Nor does the core business learn from them or benefit from their capabilities. Even if it succeeds in a narrow context, a pirate ship dissipates resources and makes it more difficult to go to scale with a new digitally enabled business model. In the end, transformation doesn’t happen in silos; it requires an enterprise-wide digital effort.
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Dembracing digital transformation is key to survival in today's business world. Find out how these companies succeeded where others failed.
Bon-Ton, Radioshack, Toys "R" Us, IHeartMedia--these are just a few of the companies that filed for chapter 11 in the past year. Both the retail industry and media industry have struggled to keep pace with our evolving digital world, but many other industries are facing similar challenges.

However, where some companies are failing, others are making tremendous strides forward. There are many traditionally based businesses--companies that have been operating well before the Digital Age changed everything--that have embraced digital transformation with open arms. These companies have incorporated omni-channel shopping experiences, invested in IoT sensors, leveraged data analyzation, and more. Their leadership is not afraid to shake up the status quo while keeping a keen eye on future tech and trends. So, even though entire industries may be facing disruption on many fronts, these companies have found a way to beat the competition and continue delighting their customers.

Here are just a few examples of companies that have successfully leveraged digital strategies to thrive in today's hyper-competitive markets:

New York Times
Twenty years ago, if you hopped on the subway during rush hour in Manhattan, you'd be surrounded by people with their noses buried in newspapers. Today, however, everyone's attention is glued to their phones instead.

Digital has been killing the media industry--particularly publishing and newspapers--for over 15 years now. According to The Atlantic, "Between 2000 and 2015, print newspaper advertising revenue fell from about $60 billion to about $20 billion, wiping out the gains of the previous 50 years."

But one newspaper managed to navigate these turbulent waters by embracing digital. The New York Times decided to implement a successful subscription model for their online content that allowed the company to continue to deliver the same type of high-quality journalism and content their readers trusted for over 167 years. They don't rely on ads or clicks so they can make content decisions based on journalism principles instead of the advertiser's demands.

This method appears to be working. According to their January 2017 report, "Last year, The Times brought in almost $500 million in purely digital revenue, which is far more than the digital revenues reported by many other leading publications (including BuzzFeed, The Guardian and The Washington Post) -- combined."

Fidelity
Founded in 1946, Fidelity has come a long way when it comes to digital transformation. While many other companies in the financial industry have struggled to compete with fintech startups, this multinational financial services corporation has been betting big on digital and it shows.

The mobile app, in particular, is one of Fidelity's shining achievements. With a current rating of 4.7 stars and a half a million reviews on Apple, it's safe to say customers are happy with the Fidelity app experience. One of the biggest wins is that this company managed to successfully mimic the desktop trading experience in the app--allowing customers to make trades and invest on the go.

Disney Parks
While Disney is definitely not a princess that needed to be saved, it's important to make note of their impressive digital transformation efforts.


In 2015, Disney Parks announced it would be investing $1 billion in IoT sensors to be used throughout their parks. Today, guests who attend Disney World get a MagicBand wristband that uses RFID technology to make their time in the park seem even more magical. These bands act as payment, hotel room keys, and even ride tickets. And the data Disney collects as their customers use these bands only helps the company find more ways to improve the user experience.

Walmart
While smaller retailers are dropping like flies, it's only a matter of time before Amazon starts taking out the big name players like Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, or Walmart. The latter, however, decided to take action rather than sit on the sidelines and wait for the inevitable.

Walmart has been squaring up with Amazon by changing its online return policies to make things easier for consumers, offering the lowest prices, and promoting the fact that you don't need a membership to order online (this latest ad hit right when Amazon increased Prime memberships).

But it doesn't stop there. Walmart has also diversified its offerings--buying up online brand names like Jet and Mod Cloth and even selling clothes from Lord & Taylor. In addition, the Walmart mobile app continues to improve the customer experience. The latest update allows customers to add up the costs (including sales tax) on their shopping lists before they even leave the house. Once a customer gets to the store, they can interact with the app's "store assistant" to guide them to items on their list via a map.

The Harvard Business Review sums these efforts up nicely: "Walmart is increasingly becoming a 'digital winner', as it builds out a fast-growing ecommerce business and also leads in digital innovations when compared to other brick-and-mortar retailers."

This is one company that's leaning into digital hard, and giving Amazon a run for their customers' money.


Wrapping up
While each of the above companies uses different strategies when it comes to digital transformation there is one common denominator across the board: a better experience for the customer. The companies that are successful in digital are the ones who put the customer at the center of everything they do. No matter how the technology continues to evolve, the brands that focus on the customer will know the best ways to transform moving forward.
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Don’t be fooled by the term ‘disruption’. Many people misinterpret this as meaning the process of digital disruption is a negative one; that it is an attack on their business.

In reality, it is only a negative force for those who chose to ignore it or try to fight it. Those who embrace it often find that it can benefit their business in various ways, contributing to their success.
What Is Digital Disruption?

Digital disruption is a transformation that is caused by emerging digital technologies and business models. These innovative new technologies and models can impact the value of existing products and services offered in the industry. This is why the term ‘disruption’ is used, as the emergence of these new digital products/services/businesses disrupts the current market and causes the need for re-evaluation.

An Example of Digital Disruption: Kodak Cameras Fail To Capture Future Markets

Kodak were one of the first to introduce cameras to the mainstream market. They monopolised the markets for the majority of the 20th century, but unfortunately failed to keep up with the changing identities of their customers and the changing needs and expectations that came along with them.

Digital cameras made the move from being a just piece of photographic equipment to being a much more life-friendly, fun gadget. And where as Kodak originally had their target consumer pegged as female, the male digital camera market opened up thanks to the ‘gadget’ culture. Some clever marketing from other digital technology brands led to changes in consumer perceptions and created a new ‘need’ for photographic gadgets.

This allowed brands such as Sony and Canon to swoop in and steal the hearts of the consumers with their new technologies and approaches, while Kodak stuck to their guns and fought the change for as long as they could. Despite rapidly losing market share, they refused to succumb to the inevitable force of digital disruption and in 2012 they eventually declared bankruptcy.

How Does Digital Disruption Impact Businesses?

The lesson we can learn from Kodak is that digital disruption is an unstoppable force and to try and fight it is futile.

But what businesses can do is embrace digital disruption, even plan for it. Keeping an eye on the ball and knowing the signs of digital disruption emerging in your industry means you can get ahead of the game and work with the flow rather than against it. Not only does this prevent the wave of digital disruption from washing away your success, it can also lead to further growth and new opportunities for the business.

Digital disruption typically marks changes in consumer needs and therefore working with the tide allows you to fulfil these emerging needs, keeping existing customers happy and opening up opportunities for new customers to find what they need from your brand.

The below video by James McQuivey goes into more detail about how digital disruption impacts brands and how they can work with it to create a stronger, more successful future.
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As a strategy & innovation consultant I came to meet & work with many large & mid-size organizations in various industries. Far from generalizing or being judgemental, I often notice that in most cases Inertia and lack of strategic thinking have done more damage than a slow economical cycle which is outside their control.
Let me explain, if we take Lebanon as a marketplace, we quickly observe that the big chunk of companies are operating either in mature or in declining categories. Moreover, their business practices did not evolve much since at least 20+ years.

Wether in retail, automotive, F&B, etc.. all these segments will not witness major growth due to: demographic stagnation, competitive intensity and bargaining power of consumers to name a few. Most of these industries with their current structure have reached their peak and will at best grow in line with the national GDP rate (1-2.5%). if applied on a company that sells for $M5 worth of goods, the incremental revenues will at best represent $K100-$K150/year, barely enough to cover the increase in cost of living or cost of doing business due to inflation (approx. 4%). people will not start eating 5 meals a day, will not drive more than 2 different cars at best, will not buy more clothes than what their closet can fit, etc..

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That shows why most companies have seen their sales & profits stagnating over the past few years. And for those who will manage to beat the market and increase sales by more than 10%, it is most likely that this result will be achieved at the cost of very low profitability as they will need to invest in aggressive marketing and promotion in various forms & offers to steal market share.

So if the market is not growing enough & you can't profitably gain market shares from rivals due to customers inertia driven by your offering's lack of differentiation, the question becomes 'Where would growth come from?'

I am sure you agree that this is not a good story for any businessman who would like to see his turnover doubling every 5-6 years and his return on Capital following suit so he can invest in salaries increase, recruitment, bigger stores and up-to-date technology. so how can we break this vicious cycle and ignite sustainable growth that create value?

The answer is not seeking to gain incremental growth in mature sectors but rather to invest in Innovation strategies to create new market spaces and new consumers. How? let us look at examples that have disrupted existing businesses and created new markets & new customers​

Airbnb: This company has adopted what we call a 'Disruptive innovation' strategy by smartly targeting 'non-consumers' of hotels and travel services &/or 'over-served customers' who don't really need or value a lot of the hotels numerous facilities with their expensive price tags and limited immersion in city life experiences (living like true Parisian or Lebanese). Their innovation was to have an in-depth understand of these users problems & aspirations then leveraged technology to put them in contact with a segment of people who are looking to make some extra money by renting their real estate/assets when not in use. By doing so Airbnb created a whole new market and opportunities for those 'always wanted to travel or live like the natives' and for a lot of entrepreneurs to open shops to serve these Hosts who are not able to manage their properties on regular basis (due to work schedules or other constraints).

In Lebanon, occupancy rate for apartments on Airbnb is increasing, averaging around 55 percent in Beirut, according to AirDNA, a website offering statistical data on Airbnbs around the world. The number of Beirut properties listed on Airbnb has grown fourfold in the last three years, with listings jumping from 300 to nearly 1,200 offerings this year, according to the November issue of Lebanon Opportunities. Renting apartments and rooms through the online platform has become an attractive business for investors. “Airbnb started with individuals listing their apartments, but it is becoming a business model, where professional management companies are leading the market,” said Elie Karaa, managing Partner at Local Host, which manages 50 apartments through Airbnb.

One can confidently say that a substantial chunk of the growth in the hospitality sector has been scooped not by traditional players (hotels) but by a company that don't have an operation in Lebanon nor a single employee or ever invested in any asset!..Yet managed to create & grab a whole new market & customer base.

Same applies to Uber ( new mobility model), Netflix (who disrupted the low-quality video rentals shops). These examples show that the new competition has no boundaries and it will not play in existing markets but will innovate to Create new ones and render the legacy ones at best very weak & at worse totally obsolete.

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What can local companies do about it? Innovate to create new businesses that will re-ignite double-digits growth.

Innovation carries a lot of misconceptions ranging from: technology only, not critical at this stage, 'not for us', etc..

Innovation is not 'invention'. It is simply a way to design better or cheaper new offerings that will make your company strategy tangible to accelerate growth that is economically profitable and appreciated by existing & new customers.

There are numerous ways a company can innovate. to do so it has to start by:

a. Conduct a PEST analysis to contextualize your business now & in the near future.

b. Defining what business are you in? (equally which ones you are not)

c. Understanding your customers 'job-to-be-done', their frustrations & aspirations

d. Identifying your current competitive advantages and core capabilities

e. Synthesize the above data then Ideate new 'Business models' with ten-types scenarios.

f. Design prototypes to test the solution in-situ to measure its appeal & mitigate risks.

Let us give a tangible example; auto-dealers are all suffering from a decline in sales which are highly dependents on the mother company's ability to design & manufacture new models that will hopefully appeal to local buyers taste but also to consumers spending appetite. This makes their business outlook fully reliant on external factors that can be highly cyclical.

The solution: 'what if' a car dealer decides to innovate in order to lower his dependency on suppliers and stabilize his revenues by offering a car sharing platform service? Leveraging those who have a car that they don't always use (only drive to work & back for ex.) and targeting those who either use cabs & poor public transport or those who can not afford to buy a car for each family member or those who moved down-town and now need a car only 'occasionally'?

The legacy thinking would say that this initiative would affect new car sales. Well, not quiet true since he would be targeting non-users or over-served but also dealer can supply potential entrepreneurs with his range of pre-owned cars to be put for sharing after being recouped from new sales..


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This is just to illustrate what should every company be thinking about to move from 'Playing to play' onto 'Playing to win'. i.e beating market levels and winning with customers in a unique way (profitability, experience, market share,...). To do that it must seek to strategically answer the critical questions: Can I redefine the business am in? Where would growth come from? how can I reduce dependencies? Are there opportunities to differentiate that am overlooking by being in my comfort zone? Then use innovation to develop adjacencies and new categories that will energize the growth curve, create new jobs, new entrepreneurs, profitable growth and transform our aging 19th century domestic economical model into a brighter 21st century knowledge & innovation based model.


Joe Ayoub is the founder of brandcell. A Strategy + Innovation consulting firm
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There’s a change in business leadership that’s transforming the way we solve problems...and that shift revolves around design thinking. Design affects much more than appearances and can help develop innovative solutions for just about any problem.

Paola Antonelli, said it best: “Design is not style. It’s not about giving shape to the shell and not giving a damn about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.”

If that sounds a like a bit of a stretch, bear with me for a moment…

According to Tim Brown, design thinking is “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Businesses deal with diverse and complex issues on a daily basis, but all of these issues all have two things in common: we need to understand them, and we should address them. Design thinking helps with both.


Take IBM As An Example:

In a recent project, an airline approached IBM to improve its kiosks to speed up passenger gate check-ins. While the engineers started by improving the kiosk’s software, designers went straight to gate agents to ask why the check-in kiosks weren’t used more effectively. Designers found out that female gate agents struggled to keep kiosks charged because their constricting uniforms prevented them from reaching electrical plugs behind the machines. By finding the root of the problem, IBM delivered a mobile app that significantly eased the boarding process and reduced airline costs. -Anne Quito of Quartz.

Thinking like a designer helps you become aware of issues in a way that isn’t very natural to other disciplines, and this can be especially helpful when users are involved. Design both helps you understand issues in a new context, and figure out how solutions will work in real-time.

And now that I have your attention...

Here’s Exactly Why Industry Leaders Are Betting Big On Leading With Design:

1. It Redefines The Problem

IBM was able to come up with an innovative solution because the designers involved questioned what the real problem was. Sometimes the real issue at hand isn’t immediately obvious...or worse, the problem we try to address is really the symptom of a larger problem. Design thinkers always question the brief, because sometimes the real issue isn’t seen at face value.


2. It’s Collaborative

Design thinking calls for collaboration, creating a positive environment that’s great for growth and experimenting. Herbert Simon, Professor of Psychology at Carnegie-Mellon University even said “There are no judgments in design thinking. This eliminates the fear of failure and encourages maximum input and participation. Wild ideas are welcome since these often lead to the most creative solutions.”


3. It Solves The Same Old Problem In A Different Way

It’s important to create and consider many options for similar problems, even when the solution seems obvious. Having multiple perspectives can lead to innovative approaches. After all, would the same old problem keep happening if solutions were effective enough?


4. It Puts The User First

Design thinking helps shift focus away from a ‘features-first’ approach to a ‘user-first’ mentality. By observing and speaking directly to users, you can solve the problems that real people face. That’s the difference between adding value versus blindly adding features based upon assumptions. Great problem-solving taps into a customer’s feelings and experiences to provide purposeful and informed changes.


5. It Leads To Simpler Solutions

Design perspectives don’t just address challenges, they rethink them entirely. This tendency to reshape problems leads to innovations that seem deceptively simple. With the user constantly in mind, design thinking ensures that solutions are intuitive, and even humanizing.


Better Business By Design

Design is a process; and when you think of it that way, it becomes less about appearances and more about discovering new opportunities to meet and exceed a user’s expectations. It’s both a mindset focused on solutions and managing philosophy of great businesses.

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