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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