Seven interrelated megatrends drive the future of successful business strategies

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1 Seven interrelated megatrends drive the future of successful business strategies n The role of cost and efficiency is in public discussion n Margins are dramatically falling with the exception of innovative products n Virtual buisness has become normal in less than a decade n Hundreds of thousands of companies whose backbones are IT and the Internet,

2 Chapter 1 Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in Today, more than a hundred years into the industrial age, most companies are aware that they are at risk by factors that they can hardly influence, such as economic crises, demographic shifts and new consumer habits. We also observe huge opportunities. In this situation it becomes even more important to have some reliable facts on which to base one s thinking. There have been many interesting and challenging articles and books on the mega trends and the general trends, as well as on the challenges economies will face. And there are also countless factors that companies should comply with if they want to succeed. We want to draw all of these influences together and make them accessible to our readers. To make it easy for our readers we have made choices based on our consulting experience with organizations and governments, in cooperation with Research & Development (R&D) experts from companies like Altran Technologies who work for projects like Grand Paris and we came up with a basic set of trends, as well as very elementary success factors. They form a framework for what we want to communicate about the chances that innovation has to offer companies who are open to it and willing to change. Many different influences and trends demand new ideas and we found many examples where these trends have been used successfully by companies around the world. Even more important by looking forward we believe that by innovation even more can be achieved in terms of organic Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in 11 Innovate Your Company. Michael Traem Copyright 2010 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim ISBN:

3 growth and success. And there is and will be a clear development towards more outsorcing of Research & Development to technology service providers. Trends that companies cannot ignore Even though most companies are re-acting rather than acting in times of change, there are certain trends that can and may not be ignored. Every company with a feel for the market and its requirements has to understand what is going on in the mid and long term and prepare and act accordingly. And the challenges are not becoming any less. Of course innovation should be nothing but logical in a situation of constant changes and challenges even if such times are in a way hostile to innovation, as managers often say. In the end it is the vision of a better product, with its exceptional features and a good price, that make for a market under all circumstances. 1. West-East Shift Around the globe people have become more mobile, partly because there are regions with more wealth and others with far less than is needed to lead a decent life. This movement means escaping from poverty and running into the arms of the well-todo nations. It is characterized by the direction South-North be it Latin-Americans moving up to the United States right now Garcia is the most common last name in the US or Canada, or Africans leaving for continental Europe by boat. Recently, we have seen a new direction becoming even stronger than the race to the North. There is certainly a new shift growing more and more evident: the West-East shift. For ages the western hemisphere has been the center of the developed world, the absolute heartland of all change, progress and growth. Even in the 80s when many old paradigms became 12 Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in

4 obsolete, the then so called triade power included Japan as the only strong economy besides Europe and North America. Then came the South-East Asian tigers (South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore) and the world changed for good. Nowadays, the shift to the East has gained strength. Now it is the Arab Gulf States or the Emirates, it is India, it is definitely China and it is Russia where wealth is generated to the extreme and most often accumulated by a few. These new economic areas have not only become important for western companies as markets and as locations where for the time being cheap labor also helps companies from Europe or North America to survive fierce competition from eastern competitors. They are, and that is a new message, also the economies were the newest innovations come from, e.g., the $ 1500 car Tata Nano from India. Of course these nations have a different culture than those in the western hemisphere. There are different attitudes towards religion and its day-to-day implications, there are different views on warranty, on intellectual property, and also on branding and trade mark protection as well as licensing. And there are also hundreds of small management issues that do not make it easy for western companies to cooperate with eastern economies. At any rate, the general tendency shows a persistence of the West- East shift. Therefore, this time westerners will be the ones to adjust, not the other way around. And they will be able to capitalize on the changes that they are open for. 2. Cost first It has been quite a while since we all had to learn that in European and North American industries cost issues always come first. And cost is still in focus. There is no question that consulting projects around the world could be done without at least a small or underlying cost aspect, even if the overall topic is Trends that companies cannot ignore 13

5 growth or culture change or new product/market strategy. This is a clear indicator of how important cost issues have become in the war over competitiveness. For quite a while it has been a rule that cost reduction influenced stock analysts: they gave a good or excellent rating if companies engaged in serious cost cutting. They often did not so appreciate good customer relations or high customer value. Today, as many companies struggle with economic crisis, the value of cost cutting alone is under discussion. There must be something more that adds value than mere cost. So there is a roll back towards customer value, which can be increased by acquiring new customers and/or expanding the worth of existing ones. As markets become more mature, gaining new customers at reasonable acquisition costs becomes increasingly difficult. Therefore, companies concentrate their efforts on establishing stable and long-lasting relationships with existing customers through customer satisfaction. Coming back to cost issues: As long as good customer relations are the key to good sales, cost issues have to be seen in this context. It is important that newly developed products are cheaper and easier to handle and all cost-cutting options have to be included in the supply chain from outsourcing to de-proliferation, from strategic sourcing to make-or-buy strategies. One big issue under the cost cutting perspective is innovation outsourcing. Outsourcing of engineering and innovation services, as offered by Altran, is an upcoming market. Sometimes these conservative approaches are not enough. Then things have to be done completely differently. Innovation all over the place: A new product, new customers, new internal processes, new supply chain and also new services around the product. Sooner or later the company will find that it ends up with an entirely new business model, which is, for a while, very cost efficient until the next round of cost cutting. 14 Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in

6 3. Regulation and accelerating state control Regulation is meant to create an optimal framework for gridbased industries such as railways, telecoms or energy supply and beyond the obvious also banks without being too liberal. Most often after a long time of being a regulated industry for historic reasons, deregulation has to take place at some point to get more liberal ways of handling those businesses. In both cases the state or another political body like the EU are involved. In any case, this involvement is discussed in particular by the liberal parties and those entrepreneurs who fear for the survival of free enterprise. Economic change influences this picture. As in the financial crisis, suddenly governments all over the world started initiatives to solve monetary problems, save companies from bankruptcy and rescue national economies. Some succeeded, some had less luck. But what became crystal clear in this situation was that government bodies suddenly, and in almost full agreement felt responsible for what banks and businesses had done wrong on a large scale. So politicians did not discuss but acted, just like real entrepreneurs. The effects were spectacular in a positive way. Therefore, it can be envisaged that more government is a future trend that has just got started. Interestingly enough, the German chancellor Angela Merkel even charged innovation officials in state bodies with the task of assisting companies in their innovation endeavors. 4. Sustainability and the challenges of climate change The climate is not under human control and never has been. Without action, global emissions are forecast to double by This is a call to action first and foremost to the developed economies of Europe, North America, Japan and Oceania. Now they can and must influence the climate. They are home to just Trends that companies cannot ignore 15

7 20 percent of the world s population but are responsible for nearly half of the world s annual CO 2 -emissions. Therefore, in the climate debate the question is no longer whether climate change is happening and whether there should be measures to limit it. The discussion now is about when and how sustainable carbon footprints can be established by companies worldwide. Of course, business will be affected by questions about the preparation for a more carbon-constrained world, the questions of how to change products and how to pay for emissions that cannot be avoided. In the end it is the question: How can a company stay competitive if CO 2 is a part or a result of its production process in respect to the entire value chain? For all these reasons the Copenhagen protocol has been signed by Arthur D. Little at a very early stage. Starting to reduce carbon is not an easy thing to do. The solution that a company will find is closely linked to new technologies and practical changes in processes and systems. At best, the results of these activities not only reduce carbon emissions but also compensate for the cost involved. 5. Increasing complexity While India comes up with a simple basic car for everyone at a price of about $ 1500, middle class cars in Europe and North America cost as much as a small apartment, or a small piece of land in a city like Manchester or Orléans. Compared to the no frills real estate you can buy for $ , the cars for the same money have all the modern features, comforts and luxuries. It starts with exquisite leather seats, wonderful trendy colors, engines with refined enhancers for speed and all sorts of aluminum wheels, electronic fixtures and fittings, not to mention communication with built in blue-tooth phone and Internet access. 16 Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in

8 All these fine features that today s middle-class cars have would not have been possible in a luxury car in Between that date and today lies proliferation or complexity that built up over time and made cars expensive because the wealth of variations is hard to handle for car manufacturers. Platform strategies help a bit, but the lot 1 according to the requirements of one customer costs enormous sums and can only become a success if the price is right. What we see is ever-increasing complexity: in industry structures, in alliances, and in products and services we develop and deliver to ever-smaller niches. This complexity is driven by the search for commercial advantage, for better-differentiated ways to deliver value, or by customers demands for customization. Some companies thrive on this complexity, innovating continuously to resolve or marshal complexity to deliver extraordinary value to their customers and shareholders. Some high-impact companies even re-shape their industries by finding and implementing ways to marshal complexity in completely new ways. Of course, like in all the other trends mentioned here, there is a counter trend with quite the opposite intention. This is the trend towards simple products, such as the Indian car mentioned above. Also, in this field, the demands for smart innovation can hardly be overestimated. 6. New middle classes Looking at consumers from a global perspective, there are new classes of consumers and they are much more differentiated today than ever before. Endless typologies of consumers with totally different demand structures and directions in their shopping behavior speak volumes in this context. Many traditional assumptions and market segmentations no longer hold true. The customer with a high income is likely to be looking for luxury goods. However, he or she would like not Trends that companies cannot ignore 17

9 just to buy some well-known, expensive brand but something special which is not too popular. Other customers often with far less money are just looking for a luxury niche in a mainstream product portfolio. Others, again, do indeed have very high incomes but want good quality at a low price. And, of course, there are also those customers who cannot afford very much and are simply looking for good offers. All these customers with their differentiated wishes and requirements have been empowered by the possibilities of the Internet in a way that they have never before experienced. In this respect it is a middle class phenomenon because socially deprived consumers cannot shop with their PC and do not communicate digitally. But those who are in, who have a PC at hand, can make choices which have improved year after year. Today, each company in all segments offers at least catalogues on the Internet, if not whole shops, so that there are more chances to compare prices and qualities offered. And customers can reach out into product development and marketing when they configure their own PCs or cars, when they rip, mix and burn music or movies, when they comment on hotels or restaurants on the web. So much for the younger customers, but there are many older consumers who have become important as well. With the baby boomers entering pensionable age and old age pensions making life quite comfortable these days, and the availability of other funds to tap, these consumers are still interesting for suppliers of all sorts of goods, not only walkers and vitamin pills. Middle classes as a rule develop dynamically in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). They are a new consumer class in themselves. For vendors this means they have to cope with this new customer group and, at the same time really understand the rapidly changing demand structures and make offers which match differing customer needs exactly by cluster, or even by person. This is asking for extreme mass customization, which is a new frontier in particular for consumer goods 18 Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in

10 companies whatever they are offering. Innovation in close coordination with customers will be the key to success here. 7. Technology With improved IT at hand and the Internet in place, companies changed for good without noticing it. The virtual business was a blueprint in the 90s and no one really believed in such companies becoming a reality. Nowadays, those companies are a fact: everyone is aware of that and no one doubts their existence. There are hundreds of thousands of companies whose backbones are IT and the Internet. Particularly successful ones like Google, ebay, or amazon.com would not exist if not for sophisticated technologies, e.g., IT and the Internet. Even if the company is not totally dependent on IT and the Internet, it is able to excel with the support of high tech: CRM systems reaching more customers at the same time, faster customer response, faster decision making, faster forecasts, faster results on a daily, monthly, quarterly or annual basis, well-based buying decisions, and more accurate control. Also the involvement of the customer in product development/product assembly through online configurators and feedback forms is only made possible with the right IT and the Internet with its communication possibilities. By keeping all these trends and their implications in mind, companies have a fair chance to act in a way where they can win the competitive race if they take on the challenges that come with all these trends. Of course, the external trends cannot be acted on if there is no internal structure that fosters the execution of innovation all through the company. Call it innovation management or any other name. If innovation is the secret of the success of many companies, we trust that innovation can be learned by the companies that agree with the trends and act accordingly. They just Trends that companies cannot ignore 19

11 have to also understand what the internal prerequisites, if not the success factors, are. We see at least five factors that are more important than the others when it comes to managing and realizing innovation on a sound basis. Success factors that foster innovation Looking at many projects that companies commit themselves to, there is always clarity about the objectives but seldom about the way to go forward. There are isolated projects that can be executed by the rules and project management but then these projects silt up and the results are poor. If companies see the big picture and include the entire company, there is a lot more to be achieved by innovation than just a new product. 1. Develop a shared vision It is essential that not only management has a vision about how the company could thrive. This vision must be scrutinized and shared by the entire team, big or small. This means that at first everyone in the company has to start thinking about the purpose of what he or she is doing towards the goals of the company and what the company is doing towards the goals of the economy and society. Often a good team already shares a collective sense of purpose without even knowing or discussing it. This is a good start, but then the vision has to be made explicit and digestible for all employees at all levels. This means openness and people caring, from which a unique process evolves. This process is individual and specific in each company. It will help make the desired result a clear and appropriate vision happen. And it determines the quality of its effects. 20 Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in

12 2. Set the base for results with a nurturing innovation culture Even under competitive pressure a company has to be able to come up with results, or even more. Tangible results in innovation are, last but not least, the products that can be launched and become successes in their respective market segments. In no way can great results in innovation be achieved without a strong culture, let alone none at all. Good examples for nurturing an innovation culture are Alsthom or Samsung. Of course, innovative cultures cannot escape the impact of competition, but they can make the most of the situation. Empowered employees and managers, openness to change, no fear of speaking up, and time to think instead of working late hours. In this case there is no time to reflect on customers future requirements and the possibilities that are within range due to the core competences of the company. 3. Make innovation management the back bone of an innovative company There is no such thing as a successful company without leadership, and it is understood there is also no such thing as innovation without the strong guide rails of inspired leaders and consistent managers. Of course all walks of company life have to be included and everyone involved has to have someone to turn to if new ideas pop up or old things go wrong. First and foremost, this means teams have to be in place representing all the capabilities in the company. Then there has to be the training of human resources on all levels in order to develop the skills and capabilities needed to be creative, to work efficiently, to spare time for thinking about new ways and products, and to learn about the clear advantages of teaming up and working closely together instead of individually and in isolation. Success factors that foster innovation 21

13 In addition to just using management tools, such as accounting and controlling, managers have to develop their so-called soft skills. People who are supposed to get difficult tasks done have to be motivated, not just given incentives as it is done at BASF, Henkel or Siemens. 4. Develop and execute a strategy to make the vision become a reality Based on an inspiring vision, an open and creative culture and effective leadership and management, the right strategy will help reach goals and set out towards new horizons. We are not talking about a high level corporate strategy here, even though everything that is done on the innovation front has to be in line somehow with corporate strategies. What we are talking about is strategy that makes sense of the vision and the ideas that are lined up, and helps to realize them. How can we come up with a product that enables customers to...? Whatever the product will eventually be like, there has to be a clearly laid out path showing how to get to that product and market it effectively. Call it a product/market strategy, but it has to be even more. It has to include the internal value-chain steps that make marketing possible: product development, design, production, sales and logistics. This is not about a long engrained process but about new ways to do the old chores, as companies like Hyundai or Vipro as a service provider do. 5. Accept and integrate all new approaches into a new business model Just change two or three processes and you have a new business model: you are doing business differently from what has 22 Introduction: Our approach to innovation no matter what state the economy is in

14 become commonplace among your competitors. This may lead to competitive advantage by itself because it makes buying easier for customers, or it speeds up cash-flow, or it generally reduces operating and maintenance costs in the company that goes to market. Even though there are strict rules for building new business models, most of them are not tactically developed around a table but come about during discussions over how to save money with a new IT supported process, or what steps in a process could be spared while the result would still be the same and cater to the needs of customers with less effort than before. Companies like Virgin or more recently Twitter have succeeded in doing so. Watching for the five success factors while continuing to comply with all the trends that make the wishes of customers change, and change again and again, will be the key in making innovation an integral part of companies in times of change and beyond. This book draws on the deep and broad knowledge of Arthur D. Little and its consultants in the field of innovation and in all other management issues as well. We will give examples and develop rules in the following chapters. Success factors that foster innovation 23

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