Business 2.0 – Delighting customers, shareholders and employees simultaneously

18 09 2008
working at home...

working at home...

There has been lots of excitement about Web 2.0 – using the latest internet innovations to re-invent how the web is used.  Recently I have been studying something called Transformation 2.0 – using latest web based communication tools such as blogging to improve how businesses implement change programmes. Now I’d like to propose that managers and business owners consider Business 2.0 – how to re-organise the business around a new business model that brings many benefits to all key stakeholders – again using recent innovations in communication technology as a core enabler.

Businesses are facing a multiplicity of pressures including demands from customer groups for improved corporate social responsibility, from suppliers raising input prices, from increased fuel and energy costs, from new legislation on energy usage, and increasingly from rising demands for bigger wage increases from staff who themselves are feeling the effects of inflation and the credit crunch.  Profitability is taking a hit and share values are falling as a result.  Businesses will need to re-act to these problems in the near future if they haven’t already done so.

In this situation the conventional responses may not be enough – sure, costs can be contained – in the usual conventional and predictable way by cutting expenses, restricting business travel, reducing stationery usage, blocking recruitment, etc. But will conventional responses like this position companies to be more competitive? To win increased market share whilst competitors struggle? Unlikely in my view.  However, managers who are bold and think creatively can re-invent their business in the Business 2.0 mould and simultaneously delight customers, shareholders and employees by making dramatic operating cost reductions that improve profitability, reduce personal costs and improve working arrangements for employees, and please environmental protagonists by reducing the company’s carbon footprint and improving business sustainability.

Working from home can be embraced on a much wider scale than it is currently by the majority of businesses. A recent research report by Siemens Enterprise Communications identifies that more than 70% of employees who are not currently working from home would like to – at least for part of their week. So can Business 2.0 help businesses use technology to become more virtual and less bricks and mortar?

I find that many managers worry about losing productivity by embracing the working from home model – perhaps because they are moving into a unknown way of managing and motivating people, and fear the loss of control? However, technology innovations and connectivity have improved dramatically in recent years, and the benefits of increased home working are getting bigger and bigger in the present economic situation, enabling smaller offices that are cheaper to run; employees to save on increasingly large transport costs now that petrol has dramatically increased in price; a happier workforce who are less stressed, improved business continuity plans as the risks of being unable to trade due to situations such as offices flooding or power cuts are lowered… and the benefits go on. The result will delight customers, shareholders and employees simultaneously!

The biggest hurdle in adopting this way of working – Business 2.0 or as I have also heard it called, the “Blown Apart Business Model…”   is conventionality.  For too long managers have failed to innovate the way businesses are organised – as I mentioned in my last blog article.  But history has shown that the biggest changes occur in turbulent times – so perhaps the result of “Turbulent Tuesday” as this weeks events are beginning to be called, might just convince some managers that there is an opportunity in pursuing this type of operational strategy on a much wider basis?  Could you be one of them, or are you happy to pull the blanket over your head and hope it all blows over so that we can return to service as normal?

I’d love to hear your views on this… and you can contact me via the website to learn more about how Cultivar can help you to create your own “Blown Apart” operating strategy – see: www.cultivar.co.uk

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3 responses

20 09 2008
Paul Jackson

I read with interest the comments made in this blog with respect to the state of the economy, the need for a tight financial approach to business and the need to maintain a strict but imaginative approach to cost control.
Whilst I do not want to be harbinger of doom, I subscribe to the Kondratieff model of long wave economic cycles (see http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_02/chapmand062902.html ). In this model, global economic prosperity is interlinked with aspects such as product innovation, inflationary pressures, consumer debt, wars and political leanings, with a “depression” – a recession lasting for 10 years or more – occurring ever 50-80 years. These have occurred most recently between 1835-44, 1875-96, and 1929-49, although the cycle can be traced back to the agricultural revolution.
If, there is to be such a downturn, the need to undertake radical cost reviews and changes to our working practices is essential. As owner of a procurement consultancy (See http://www.profitthroughchange.com ), I review customers purchase process, systems and suppliers looking for opportunities. These include the simple review of suppliers and terms, but increasingly I am seeing that changes in structure and approach are needed to facilitate the cost needs of a changing business. My Who-What-Where product (www.profitthroughchange.co.uk/who-what-where-analysis.php ) examines exactly what a company is spending, who’s making the decision, and where they are placing the orders, and identifies where non-service affecting savings can be made.
In one recent client, for example, on a cost-base of circa £6m, £25K of simple, non-service affecting savings were identified, with a further project orientated opportunity list equating to over £2m of potential savings to be implemented over the next year. This list included ideas like hot-desking to reduce the size of their Central London offices, as well as conference calling rather than travelling, improved “business case to delivery management” process, and radical supplier alignment and development and consolidation.
The most rewarding changes in business are generally the difficult ones to implement, but in the current climate, implementation is essential. Ideas such as changing the way we work are the only way that businesses will survive. NOW is the time to take a long hard look at your business – batten down the hatches, this recession is going to be the longest and deepest any of us can remember.

Paul Jackson – MD – Profit Through Change Ltd

11 04 2010
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[…] “Business 2.0 – Delighting customers, shareholders and employees simultaneously” […]

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