Transform or die, urges business leaders at trail-blazing event

Businesses need to be disruptive and embrace new technologies in order to survive, at a time when the average lifespan for a business is just 15 years.

That was the overriding message from a number of business leaders at the inaugural Transform 2016 event, organised and delivered by international consultancy Columbus. The event brought together a number of businesses including Domino's Pizza and Just Eat, which are embracing new technology in order to disrupt their industries and drive positive change.

Columbus' Managing Director Mary Hunter warned: "New competitors are coming from unexpected angles, businesses are finding new ways to compete with fewer overheads, and companies are embracing new technologies to change the way entire industries operate. In order to remain up-to-date and compete, businesses need to think more disruptively and embrace change, or risk dying out."

Mary Hunter's warning echoes the latest figures available from the S&P 500 Index, which demonstrates that businesses are no longer trading for as long as they used to. The Index shows that the average business lifespan in the 1920s was 67 years, a figure that had fallen to 20 years by the 1980s, and even further to just 15 years today.

One business that is investing in new technologies in order to not only survive, but remain a market leader, is Domino's. Colin Rees, the CIO of Domino's spoke at the event and said: "Businesses need to view technology as an ally rather than a threat and embrace it in order to become more agile and prepare your business for future growth. At Domino's, we make a point of regularly looking at new technologies and seeing how we can integrate them into the company's growth strategy. Technology should not be viewed as a threat to a business, but as a key driver of positive change."

Mary Hunter points towards the current servitisation trend in the UK manufacturing industry as an example of a sector that is thinking differently in order to compete at the highest level. Servitisation is the term used to describe the shift in culture of manufacturing businesses from creating and selling products, to introducing a more service-led structure, to better create mutual value through a shift from selling product to selling Product-Service Systems. Both Nick Hussey, CEO of Hennik Group, and Iain McKechnie, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Aston Centre for Servitisation, Research and Practice, spoke of the importance of servitised business models at Transform 2016.

Iain McKechnie commented: "The Internet of Things (IoT) is making huge changes in the manufacturing industry and those businesses that are edging ahead are the ones that are utilising this technology to transform their business models. Businesses need to take a more holistic approach to their products or services and focus on how they can continue to add value to customers, long after a product has been created or sold, in order to remain competitive during challenging times."

A key tactic to employ in order for today's businesses to become more successful, according to Just Eat's Programme Manager Chloe Stubbins, is to understand your audience, and unite your team around the same ethos of delivering exceptional customer service. She said: "Don't be afraid to have frank discussions with your team, be open to innovation, and work as a team. And if you're going to fail, fail quickly, get out of the negative situation and learn from it in order to continually innovate." Just Eat's advice is reliable, coming from a business that has become the global leader in online takeaways in just 15 years.

Columbus is a company that supports businesses across the manufacturing, distribution and retail sectors to embrace positive change with technology, and has hundreds of successful case studies referencing the positive change that its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and business solutions have delivered to companies.

Mary Hunter concluded: "Change is the only constant thing in business and it is happening now more than ever before. In order for businesses to survive, they need to embrace this change and start thinking differently about how they deliver their products and services. Without this way of thinking, business will struggle to grow, and will surely die."

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