To wrap this series of articles on lockdown reflections, I’m going to refer back to something I’ve referenced many times. Austrian economist and management scientist Fredmund Malik says that we are in the greatest transformation that history has ever seen. And we’re not in the early phase of this transformation—we’re already well into it.
Malik says, “The great transformation from the old to the new world will fundamentally change almost completely what people do, why they do it, and how they do it, even who they are, and what concept of the world they have. It will revolutionize the way society and its organization functions. ‘Function twice as well as half the cost’ is just one of many challenges that most people consider impossible to master, although it has already become a reality.”
This transformation affects everything. A critical point for a company is the strategic decisions they have made in the past—if you suddenly make an operative decision that conflicts with a former strategic decision, it won’t work, and it can ruin your company. As an example, you may have made it part of your strategy sometimes back to have physical offices located around the world, and you may have invested considerable money into this strategy. Today you discover that this was a wrong decision which is costing you dearly.
We can say with certainty that we won’t go back to “normal” as it was. We hope it will be somewhat normal, but it will certainly be different. People and companies have realized that they can work from home. They’ve realized they don’t need so much office space. Perhaps some departments need to be located in an office, but many others do not. Those that are thinking that we all must return to offices should ask themselves this: How do you know that in another 2 years the same thing won’t happen again? Companies must be prepared.
I had a call today with the CEO of a software company. With his smartphone, he was showing me around a vast office space, which of course at this time is totally empty. There are cubicles and areas for 78 programmers. He said to me, “I won’t be going back to that world—I’ve shut it down.” I’m sure he won’t be the only one.
A Different Kind of Transformation
We know historically that transformations have always occurred. Maybe they’re occurring now faster than they did a couple of hundred years ago, but they have happened.
The transformation we’re into now is a transformation to a whole new world. What is that world? In the old days, we fought against visible enemies. Now the enemy we’re embattled with is invisible. And I’m certain this won’t be the last time.
Perhaps this transformation is like a dramatic metamorphosis, like that of the caterpillar becoming the butterfly. No one would ever imagine that this rather unattractive caterpillar, in the end, becomes this beautiful winged creature that we all admire.
Are We Ready?
Are we prepared for this transformation? As I spoke of in my last blog, I’m certain we’ll see changes similar to those that occurred after 9/11, when airport security was greatly tightened, and cockpit doors remained firmly closed while the aircraft was in flight.
Even though it was a tremendous disaster and was responsible for thousands of deaths, it was still a local event. Today’s crisis affects us on a global scale—are we really prepared for the ensuing transformation?
For Companies, It’s Technology
One of the changes we know must occur for companies is that they must have a digital system. This means a CRM. A company must have a firm grip on its customers, its accounts, its contacts, its activities, its leads, and its opportunities. That’s the core of a company’s operation, and it requires a CRM. Without it, the company is lost.
The days of companies saying, “Oh, yes, we must adopt a CRM at some point” are over. The pressure to do so is no longer coming from vendors like Pipeliner—it’s coming from the business world itself. No one is going to be able to work from home without a system.
On a broader scale, can companies survive without smartphones? Without computers? The answer is obvious—technology is mandatory. Just as one example, every company is required to electronically share their balance sheets with the IRS, or other government agencies in different countries.
Any company that is not taking advantage of the latest technology, bluntly, does not have a future. The owners might as well take the money out and invest it elsewhere.
During this time when many businesses have paused, we have not been still. Our latest release, just a few weeks ago, included a new feature called the Automatizer. This feature is the most comprehensive workflow automation tool in our industry. It can easily be used by anyone and has an incredible richness of features.
For example, you might require some processes to fire off automatically and run at night when employees aren’t there. These processes can be initiated through conditions and triggers—“if, then” scenarios—and require no human intervention.
As another example, perhaps you want to connect to another system utilizing their API—and all software systems today have APIs. Into the Automizer we have embedded a feature called Webhooks, which allows your system API to connect to another system’s API. For example, your system can check another system, while a customer is right there on the phone, to see if an item is in stock. And it all happens in real-time.
If medical supply companies had had time to prepare for this crisis, this kind of functionality could have been utilized in a portal, and supplies such as ventilators would not have been a problem. Leaving out the political scenery, businesses must be prepared to serve their customers.
Another automated activity that can be performed by the Automatizer is lead separation. Leads are often problematic and are often lost or neglected due to a lack of organization. Now they can be automatically categorized, and go right into nurturing programs.
Age of Sales
This kind of automatic functionality leads us back to one great benefit: humans will have more time to interact, speak and sell. As I’ve predicted before, this is the Age of Sales. This crisis will end, there is no doubt about that. It’s just a question of when. When it does, sales will be vital to get things up and running again. Without sales, there is no company.
At Pipeliner, sales is the only reason we exist. As we say:
Only one profession determines a company’s
Only one profession is ultimately responsible for
Only one profession makes it possible for a company to get their
PRODUCTS INTO CUSTOMER HANDS.
Yet despite all that, this profession is also the
BUTT OF JOKES,
the target of
the object of
in films and television, and sometimes a
A SOURCE OF SHAME
for those who fill it.
But in the end,
and, in fact
can live without them.
They are the
WHY WE’RE HERE.
Make Your Decision
So in this unbelievable transition, the challenge is made as to what kind of strategy you evolve for your company. Remember, strategy is what guides the company; you can’t make an operational decision that is contrary to your overall strategy. When you do so, it’s usually too late.
We know this well because years back we made a strategic decision which, as it turns out was totally correct. We decided that not only were we not going to have offices, but we weren’t even going to have a headquarters. We’re not totally against offices, but we think offices should only be utilized when it makes sense.
On top of that, we’ve used all the latest technology to formulate perfect processes. We have also been prudent about outsourcing activities that don’t deal directly with our core business. This has proven a very cost-effective measure, as we only pay for what we need.
The strategic change to be made can be painful, and you may need to make cuts. We all came in with the same mindset: we need to build an office, and we need to bring people in so we can control what they do. We’re now finding out how untrue this is.
Conclusion: Learn to Adapt
I’ll end with a very interesting story from Biblical history. Abraham was called upon to leave his home, and make an establishment in another land. He was not called upon to build a city, a town or even a house. He was instructed to erect and live in tents.
This, for me, is an analogy for the future. Why? Because everything is changing. We need to be prepared to take down our tents and move on when it is required.
The change is upon us, and the strong and smart ones will adapt. They will make it into the future.
Malik calls this the great transformation, but I never thought that such a change would breakthrough through the entire world at once. But here we are—all together, all over the world, in this learning curve at the same time.