"Forty percent of businesses in this room, unfortunately, will not exist in a meaningful way in 10 years."
Not my words by any means but this is a dire prediction delivered by John Chambers, the outgoing CEO of technology giant Cisco. An intrigued crowd of 25,000 partners stayed glued to his every word as he opined about the coming 10 years of corporate life.
Before we proceed, it’s important to note that every business has a chance to fail at any point (I think that’s obvious to everyone) but Chambers’ prediction specifically focuses on a few key areas.
Let’s explore further.
Lack of Urgency To Become More Digital
The reason that’s cited is the lack of urgency for companies to become more digital. This is not just about Social Selling; it’s about an overall digital mindset that an organization adopts with one sole purpose: to better serve their buyer.
Of course sales & marketing as primary revenue drivers can lead the charge here, but John Chambers is referring to a mindset shift.
In our discussions with organizations, it’s promising to see how many individuals are pressing for digital transformation, yet they face incredible pushback.
The “traditionalists” within organizations have hijacked the conversation. They’ve made the terms social and digital dirty words and used fear mongering and lack of knowledge to slow down learning for entire organizations. They hide behind social media policies, accept less from their employees and, in some cases even, deny that the buying journey has shifted altogether.
Yes, this sounds harsh but it’s an accurate observation.
I believe it’s this mindset that Chambers is referring to. Will 40% of companies die in the next 10 years then? I don’t know – I’m not a prophet and neither are you. But this really has a lot to do with Darwin’s classic observation more than anything: it’s the people, companies and industries that adapt that will survive.
Lack of adaptation will kill anyone.
He also speaks about competition in a way that most of us have forgotten about: our competitors are the ones that we can’t yet see, not the ones we’ve already defeated.
Companies that are agile, willing to test, prod, try, push, hack, and think outside the box will have a far greater chance of success. They’re not stuck in their old ways. This means that somewhere out there in the world right now is another Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Fear these competitors. Let their thought drive you to find every imaginable way to better serve your buyers.
And this doesn’t have anything to do with the size of an organization – there are many large companies that have started on the journey to digital transformation.
Do Only Old School Companies Need Digitization?
No, this is for anyone who doesn’t align themselves to the new buyer reality.
Digital transformation is for every organization. It’s a mindset shift from serving shareholders first to serving customers first.
What a neat concept: I’ll serve you in hopes that in your success lies mine. In short, the customer comes first.
So more than anything, if you can get your mindset right in serving customers, through better understanding of their buying journey, then you can begin to modify the structure and model of every single department in the company. And if you can’t get the company right, you can’t compete, let alone win.
This isn’t easy and nor can its influence be understated.
Warning for Company Leaders
The coming decade will see the proliferation of technology like never before. As a result, the buyer journey will change even more.
If your focus isn’t on getting your sales and marketing teams aligned, helping this new buyer, then your runway is shrinking.
Yes, I know you’re busy and you must have a millions of things on your mind. However, ask yourself if you can afford to have your career and your organization’s well-being jeopardized.
Warning for Sales Professionals
Sales Professionals, I also leave you with an opportunity. If you’re working in an organization that’s not serious about change, it’s time to educate yourself. Take it upon yourself to find resources, mentors, guides that will help accelerate your career.
Don’t be a passive bystander in this race to digital transformation. Instead, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you see buyers changing the way they contact and interact with you?
- Is it hard to get someone on the phone?
- What percentage of buyers do you feel are replying to your cold calls and e-mails solicitations?
These challenges aren’t unique to you – they’re affecting massive amounts of people.
And, it’s all a result of buyers changing. Access to information has changed the buyer forever. And with continuous technological advances, you can be sure that this shift will evolve, advance and prove to be a massive danger to organizations that don’t also evolve in the process.