What have “they” got that “we” don’t have?
Ever asked yourself – what have they got that I don’t have? Apparently, what you may be missing is the Exponential Quotient! In a world that is constantly integrating new technologies and reimagining relationships; It is up to each individual enterprise to be able to exploit change creatively to experience Exponential Growth.
The year 2014 witnessed the release of a book that sought to make sense of a radical emergent entrepreneurial climate and the rise of an entirely new approach to doing business. Co-authored by Salim Ismail, Yuri Van Geest and Michael Malone, Exponential Organizations – the book in question – articulates insights into a model that leverages exponential technologies and a fresh new business mindset.
Reading this, left an indelible mark on my approach to organizational success. And let me tell you why.
The book presents the case for the reasons behind the 10x impact of agile new upstarts over traditional, linear and hierarchical business models. Essentially, it brings forward the inherent strength of adaptable dependencies and non-linear structures into focus. For me, this makes perfect sense.
Understanding Sharing and Dematerialization
At the heart of the matter, the question we are asking is straight forward. Despite having had a similar start, how do some companies grow to become exponential in what they deliver? And, if we want to explore future; we need to consider the use of two strategic concepts – operational sharing and dematerialization. Both offer us a yardstick to compare our growth plans with what we can call Exponential.
A product and service system based on sharing of resources, on a need basis, is one aspect of the Exponential Organization model that is stirring considerable interest. To a great extent the outsourcing model is an already ubiquitous expression of this strategy. The IT industry alone features numerous instances – from Process Outsourcing to colocation; from SaaS/PaaS to Cloud based – these approaches have significantly added to leaner bottom lines and agile functionality.
The second part is where the questioning begins. Experts recommend that we ask ourselves how robust the business is towards Product or Service Dematerialization?
The concept of dematerialization is in itself a discussion. And I look at it in two ways: Firstly, about an innovation strategy that thinks about how we can make our product or service smaller, better, faster; by reducing or replacing the components we use to build them, without compromising or losing out on the value it delivers.
A good example would be laptops or mobile devices that are constantly getting smaller in size yet continue to remain powerful for the user. In a service environment, this could be looking to cut short the steps between the customer and organization to enable a more direct connect via digital means like transactional apps for instance.
Another way to look at this, is to think about what you would do, if an entire market you focused your product or service strategy on, were to disappear or be completely replaced with something else. Would you still be relevant? Think about how Uber changed the way we look at consuming personal commute services.
The fact is that every enterprise has to have an individual niche in the market and the widespread adoption of a dematerialization driven strategy helps flip the scarcity paradigm on its head. Instead of projecting your business on servicing a scarcity in the market, you begin to think about how it can continue to exist even beyond a market.
At the same time, technological breakthroughs like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Additive Manufacturing and Industrial Biology offer companies an entirely new vision for business processes and entrepreneurial strategies.
Ultimately, I believe the ability of your business to adapt to a world that moves out of outright ownership to need-based sharing, might well be the single most critical strength to develop over the long term. And that’s when things will really start to get Exponential.
The writer is the Technology Editor and ROI Strategist at Dubai-based CXO Strategies. She can be contacted via twitter @CXOConnectME