Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Busy Families

It somehow seems that modern life is busier than it has ever been. As well as our work and family commitments, there are now so many ways to spend our leisure time; it often feels like 24 hours is simply not long enough to get everything you wanted done in the day.

The problem of being busy all of the time (even though it is a good problem to have) hits those of us who have time-consuming jobs and are also raising a family the hardest. If you fall into this category, you may find it helpful to read the following list of five potential New Year’s resolutions you could make to ensure your 2017 is less stressful than this year may have been!

1) Leave the office on time – Even if it’s only on one or two days a week, it is important that you sometimes put your foot down and leave your place of work as soon as your day is meant to finish. You’ll find that you get much more done in the evenings!

2) Invest in a 2017 calendar – It may sound like a simple step, but that’s sort of the point. Having your work and leisure commitments mapped out for the weeks and months ahead in an easy to view format will allow you to see at a glance just how busy you are and whether you are taking on too much.

3) Spend 10 minutes doing nothing – Again, this is more productive than it sounds! Set your alarm ten minutes earlier every day so that, before you get up, you can spend this extra time in completely undisturbed silence, thinking about what your priorities should be for the day to come.

4) What are your two most important tasks? – Speaking of priorities, it is also a good idea to take a step back from time to time and decide which the two most important jobs are that you wish to accomplish on any given day. This is a great way of clearing your head when you feel overwhelmed.

5) Consider hiring household staff – You may have thought that hiring a nanny or other household staff might be the ‘easy way out’, but this is not the case. Those who have invested in professional assistance of this kind know that hiring a caring and responsible person to help run your busy home is a fantastic way of relieving domestic pressures.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Busy Families

How Does the Ford GT Stack Up?

How will it compare to the competition?

The GT is by no means a Shelby GT 350 R, not even close. Besides the over $350,000 jump in price and the additional 100 or more horsepower. The new GT is even more track-focused then the previous ones. And the mid-engine layout, combined with the GT’s carbon-fiber construction it much more than a muscle car and more of a Super car.

Even though Ford has not decided on a specific horse power, the new GT with 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 will produce more than 600 horsepower. Standing up well to the Corvette Z 06 and its’ 650 horses. Now Ford says it is working on the power-to-weight ratios to be the best of any production car. Even if they can’t hit the ratio of the Koenigsegg One with its 2.2 lbs / hp and make it to the range of the McLauren P1 with its 3.5 lbs / hp. Even with its aerodynamics the approx. 3500-lb Corvette Z06 may be a little overweight to held ground with the new GT Priced like a Lamborghini Aventador

Knowing it’s expected price range points to the real competition of the new 2017 GT. Granted the Lamborghini Aventador is packing 691 horse power, but outweighing the Corvette Z06 in curb weight by another 500 pounds, it may have a hard time keeping up with the new GT on the track. When you consider the Aventador holds twice the cylinders as the GT’s twin-turbo V6, and the fact that the Aventador is a naturally aspirated V12 all wheel drive, you can expect it to be faster off the line.

It will be interesting to see how the GT compares to the McLaren 657LT the car that feels like a competition vehicle. Weighing in at less than 3000 lbs, the 657 is pretty light, but the GT will probably weigh less. The Mc Laren 675LT is also a limited-production car, with only 500 units slated to built and cost about $50,000 less than the Lamborghini.

Then there is the Ferrari F12tdf with a price point just under $500,000 with a substantial increase in power. Touting a 6.3-liter V12 with 770 horsepower hitting 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds. The Ferrari will be a head over the GT by more than 100 horsepower, but the based on Fords claims the GT should be much more light weight. With Ford skipping a hybrid-electric system, it will be something to pit the new and severely less expensive Acura NSX with its hybrid tech and all-wheel drive against the new GT and its focus on light weight. With the NSX and its 573 horsepower will it be enough to hold its own against the GT? Time will tell.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How Does the Ford GT Stack Up?

The Artistic Way of Programming

12 years back, when I started my formal classes in computer science, the first thing I learnt was “data” means “information”. A few days after that, we started conventional programming, where code and data were treated separately. For example, only data can be passed as the functional arguments. It was difficult for me to digest that “code, which is also information, is not treated as data”. I strongly felt that this will increase complexity of softwares in the long run.

A system does three things – read, transform (processing data), write. In other words – the mathematics (the transform part), and the effect of that in real life (the read/write part). The data transformation is indeed a mathematical concept, and with the help of read and write we make the mathematics (the transform part) useful to the real world. Bringing the “transform” part fully inside mathematical domain has its own benefit of using mathematics without fear (possible errors) for the analysis of the system, making the system more tractable mathematically. The catch is to treat both the elements of transformations, data and functions, equally.

Initially, code used to be bigger than the data, so sending data over the wire was feasible. But with time, data becoming huge, sending code to systems over the wire becomes the need, resting the data on the systems intact. With big data, the need of the hour is to treat the code as data, so that the code can be taken as argument to another meta function on a system having huge data which expects an algorithm for transformations.

Roughly speaking, codes are algorithms, algorithms are mathematical functions, functions are in turn actually look-up tables, i.e. data. Hence with this principle, all codes or functions are data.This is exactly the cornerstone of the functional paradigm. The functional programming is programming with functions, they treat functions and data likewise. Another principle I love, to control complexity, rules should not be complex itself.

Thumb rules rewritten for the functional paradigm:

Read-write and transformations(algorithms) should be separate.
Use immutable variables. Discourage use of reassignment statements.
Discourage side-effects (input/output or changing any variable in-place), every function should ONLY return its expected result.
Use referentially transparent functions (sometimes it is called pure functions) with no side effects, i.e. if x = y, f(x) and f(y) should be same forever.
Unit testing is a must for each function.
One of the main design patterns should be followed is to use expressions instead of instructions, i.e. it should be declarative in nature. Discourage use of loops like for/while – use recursive statements as shown above to calculate sum. Tell computers what needs to be done, not how to do it – it reduces error, especially edge cases.
With the need to control the complexity of the system and the advance design, the design pattern for the functional composition can be made to follow some basic algebraic structures, which in turn becomes more robust.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Artistic Way of Programming

3 Content Marketing Trends to Watch

“Content marketing is a success defining element for today’s businesses. Better the content marketing better is the business.”

Content marketing in a right way can give your business a right exposure. In this fast paced world of internet, you cannot neglect it, otherwise your business might extinguish in the end. You have to pay equal attention to content creation and promotion.

With each passing day, we see new trends emerging in almost every aspect of online marketing. Content marketing is no different. From Facebook, Twitter to Snapchat, new platforms are being emerged, promising to deliver better value for content marketing.

To stay competitive, companies have to stay updated with the emerging trends. That’s why today I aim to shed light on major trends that you should watch closely in 2017.

Content Marketing Through Videos

Video is visual description of your story.

Being in trend from quite some time, videos will continue to lead the content marketing in 2017. The effectiveness of videos is obvious as indicated by the following statistics on HubSpot.com.

  • Videos increase click-through rate by 200-300%
  • Videos increase conversion by 80%
  • 64% of customers make buying decisions after watching the video
  • YouTube reports 100% increase in mobile video views every year.

No doubt, marketing through videos is really effective but that does not mean you start doing it haphazardly. You should do strategic video marketing to squeeze maximum juice out of it. Make purposeful videos and align with your long-term strategy. Through videos, you can:

  • Deliver your brand message
  • Communicate your brand story
  • Explain your value proposition
  • Build relations with your customers and prospects.

However, you also need to be careful while creating videos. A boring video or a video that does not have any value for customers will go in vain.

Keep following do’s and don’ts in mind:

Do’s:

  • Videos should be purposeful and carry value for your customers.
  • Videos should be attention grabbing.
  • Videos should be bit emotional or sentimental.

Don’ts:

  • Videos should not be too long or too short
  • Videos should not be boring
  • Videos should not be offensive by any mean.

So heads up for 2017 and aim to interact and convert your customers through strategic video marketing.

Content Marketing Through Snapchat

As reported on Bloomberg, every month Snapchat gets about 10 billion views and 100 million active users. Imagine the wider audience you can reach by using Snapchat.

Snapchat is on scene since 2012. Earlier, it was considered mainly as a sexting app. But with the passage of time, Snapchat added features that make it a really attractive marketing medium for businesses. 2017 is expected to see exponential growth in Snapchat use for content marketing.

Snapchat allows 10 second snapshots. That means nothing useless, only the message that you really want to convey. Not only it is highly engaging, it also allows easy interaction with customers. Through a 10-second snapshot, you can

  • Introduce your business
  • Convey your inspiring story
  • Create a teaser
  • Offer a discount or promotion
  • Find the talent
  • Promote your product

And the options are unlimited.

So keep your fingers crossed in 2017 to explore thousands of ways you can use Snapchat to reach a wider audience.

Use Data-Backed Content

Whatever medium you are using for content marketing, make sure that the content you are marketing is valuable. It should be informative, educative and interesting. Back it with important statistics, facts and figures to build a high level of trust with your audience. Include case studies, expert opinions and empirical evidences to support your information.

So keep these points in mind while you are planning a content marketing strategy for 2017. Focus on these areas and you will have a brilliant year ahead.

Best of Luck!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Content Marketing Trends to Watch