Change is defined as a transition of the business from the current state to the desired state and is implemented when the existing business practices cease to be as profitable and beneficial as they once were.
A highly dynamic and rapidly evolving business environment has made it imperative for organizations to constantly be on their toes. For businesses to stay relevant in an environment where technological disruption, stiff competition, and fluctuating customer needs are a norm, anticipating and adapting to change has become the best strategy to survive and thrive.
Modern organizations have started inculcating a proactive rather than reactive approach towards change. It is meticulously being executed by constantly connecting with employees & customers and by closely monitoring global trends. Business leaders are actively scouting for the new direction that they must take in order to succeed.
A look into the history of all successful business empires reveal that they have been agile in identifying and adjusting to changes at various levels as mentioned below:
Customers: Being in sync with evolving customer needs is critical to stay ahead in the business. In this information era, where digital media is playing a crucial role in influencing customer preference, it is important for businesses to constantly track what their customers need and what will truly delight them. Identifying key steps in customer decision-making process and determining triggers that can create a positive brand connect in this journey becomes essential to be relevant in the highly competitive environment. Evolving trends that might change the course of consumer decision-making process should be closely watched out for.
A pertinent example in this scenario would be e-commerce brands that observed and capitalized on the social media trends where reviews on various platforms started influencing a buyer’s decision. As a shopper started getting influenced by social media reviews rather than advertisements, brands started strengthening their digital media presence. Accepting this evolution in purchase behavior equipped major e-commerce brands to enter the consideration set of buyers for every purchase. Identifying the changing consumer behavior can be achieved by reaching out to customers through surveys and research, to know their preferences in advance. Offering new services and experiences in line with evolving consumer needs enables a business to take the lead and set an example for the rest in the industry to follow.
Competition: It goes without saying that keeping a check on the next move of business competitors is equally critical. While it might not be possible to know the exact launch or plan of action of a competitor, a thorough analysis of their strengths, weaknesses and past business strategies can give important insights into their likely course of action in the face of a change. For instance, if a competitor follows ‘launch a new product’ approach to address changing consumer preference, the brand may gain from ‘enriching customer experience along with innovation’ as a strategy to counter the competitor move.
As the business evolves, the current competitors often cease to be a threat and a new set of players emerge vying for the same market space. Mapping and accepting these changing dynamics equips a business with requisite market intelligence and motivates the brand to constantly innovate for staying ahead in the market.
Regulations: The prevalent fluid nature of markets has led to the emergence of strict regulations from key market regulators. The guidelines from such regulators intend to ensure a fair play in the market but often pose an adoption challenge with every modification or new announcement. While in few cases the market players anticipate such developments and prepare for it, this, however, may not always be the case. As any change in market regulations has business implications, the management must be deft in analyzing the policy announcements to effectively roll-out all the changes without causing major internal disruptions.
Employees: Often organizations do not pay much attention to a critical division i.e. Human Resource. In the current business scenario, opportunities for growth and career progress are in abundance. Resources move from one organization or one team in the same organization to the next one frequently. This movement happens for a variety of reasons that lead to employee dissatisfaction with their current profiles and eventual migration.
The temporary uncertainty caused by such movements must be dealt sensitively without causing disruption in key business processes. Apart from employee movement, there are various people-centric changes that an organization must effectively manage. Changes that can enhance the overall productivity of employees, be it in terms of rejigging the current team structure, altering the appraisal process or a relook at the office policies, must also be considered from time to time.
A regular review of the key internal process and adopting the best industry practices can help reduce the instances of employee migration and curtail the turnaround time for various projects by boosting employee morale and productivity.
Technology: Technology is driving everything today and is assisting consumers at every touch point. Businesses can leverage new as well as existing technology to create new products and services or enhance the current consumer experience. The management should be competent to recognize the organizational need for technological change based on existing internal process and future business goals.
While adapting radical technological developments, such as Artificial intelligence (AI) or big data, can take the business to the next level, constantly improvising the current technology, by introducing new software or online management tools, can bring about more efficiency in the business processes. Being on a constant lookout for new technologies that can be adapted to the current business scenario and anticipating the next big technological disruption that will drive the market are the hallmarks of a successful management.
It is evident that at any given point in time, the organization would experience a change at one or more of the above levels.
To ensure that a change is smoothly implemented and its intended benefits are achieved, an organization must:
- Conduct an in-depth research to be ready for the future.
- Weigh the pros and cons of an idea before implementing change.
- Get a complete buy-in from all the stakeholders for an easy adoption of the change.
- Transparent communication to fully disclose the positive as well as any negative impact that a change might entail.
- Equip the team members with the requisite skill set to embrace change.
- Regular monitoring of the changes implemented to gauge success.
While an organization might face a backlash for any major change in the short-term, the sentiments do alter when the positive impact of a proposed change starts kicking-in. If implemented for the right reason and in the right manner, a change can herald multitude of benefits for the organization, various departments, and all the employees. Hence, embracing change with open arms serves as the golden key to unlock the true potential of a business and make a significant leap in emerging as a market leader.