Planning ahead: 5 ways to preparing your company for the future

When we talk about corporate innovations and future, we jump straight to technology. Technology is simply a tool to help your business. If you think that by deploying technology, you are future-proofing your company, your premise is wrong.

The key to future is customers – yes, same as the past and present. In order to plan your company’s future, you must walk in your costumers’ (or clients’) shoes. The development of the customers plays an important part in a business model.

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PHOTO: Stock

Do you recall Facebook in 2007? – It wasn’t nearly as diverse as it is now. They kept on bringing in new things whilst getting rid of the old stuff which no longer appealed to their users, Farmville for example.

Here are five tips for better future planning of your company.

“Will it make it easy for the customers” – make this your planning motto

Innovation, especially corporate innovation depends on what people want and how well you offer it to them. Like I said before, start walking in customers’ shoes. Assume that you don’t care one bit about the hard work or financial strains that went into developing your product. The primary concern should be, do I, as a customer like it? How can I improve it?

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The clicking wheel interface of iPod was so successful because it gave what people wanted: quick, swift and fancy navigation on a teeny tiny screen. Customers always seek convenience over the complexity.

Since this is the most important tip, let’s do a case study on it:

I am a website designer myself and I can tell you that any rookie designer can make a better-designed site than Facebook. Facebook’s design is simple, not at all fancy, it barely classifies as a modern design. So why do people love it? Why do I love it? – Because I don’t care about the design. I want convenience. I want to get connected with my family and friends, and Facebook gives me that in the best possible way.

Now take Google Plus as a reverse example. Its design is mesmerizing. The hovers, JQueries, Lightboxes etc. make it very stylish– but my God Google Plus is awful or what! It simply doesn’t offer what I want. The design is way too complex and the features are limited.

Bottom line: it’s all about what consumer wants not what you want or what looks good.

Core product alone cannot keep you on top

These days, consumers are beyond buying products. They now buying experiences. There is just so much competition that selling something doesn’t matter. How many websites are there that sell items online? Hundreds of thousands – a decade ago there were like five. Honestly, do you think an idea or concept alone can make you a market leader? It won’t be enough to even survive in the industry.

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PHOTO: CounterIntuity

Customers expect you to go above and beyond and sell them both product and experience. Let’s look at another example:

Many hotels around the world have websites and mobile apps. But Hilton Hotels is offering something more. Their app HHonors gives customer a unique experience. A person can select one of their hotels from the app and make a reservation. That is pretty much the standard function almost all big hotels are offering.

But HHonors goes one step ahead of everyone else. When a person, who has booked through the app, arrives at the hotel, he experiences something different. He is not required to stop at the check-in counter. The app will guide him to his room using NFC (near field communication), without any hurdle.

Hilton Hotels is going a step above their core service to give the customers an unforgettable experience.

Keep an open mind about your product’s structure

Your product might reach out to your desired customers today but they might lose interest after a few years. How does that happen? – It happens when the planners don’t think about customers’ evolving demands. You can be of utmost certainty that the thinking of your customer will change every few months. You must keep updating at the same pace otherwise you will lag behind.

You don’t want your customers to feel like they are cornered. Make sure your product integrates with other technologies.

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PHOTO: Nine9

The example I am going to give you here might surprise you.

Apple will be our case study for this point. Apple’s sales are declining – it’s a fact. Yes, Steve Job’s charisma and Apple’s sleek designs were great for the customers for a short span but now they are moving on. Customers now want features.

Here in South East Asia, my part of the world, sales of iPhone have declined alarmingly. There is a new sheriff in town: Huawei. Huawei is offering cost-effective phones with great designs and outstanding features that iPhone doesn’t have.

Keep in touch with the market trends

You must be thinking, this is the oldest verse in the Bible of corporate branding – but you’ll be surprised as to how many people ignore it. The minute you lose touch with the market, your sales start dropping. Keep an eye on your competitors, use social media sites to see what users want, if they like your product or have negative feedback.

Don’t get caught up in making money or gaining control. Money and power will come automatically if you keep your consumers happy. Focus on how market is progressing, accounts can be dealt-with later.

Take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients

“Take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients”, I read a Facebook post with this title. And no matter how clichéd it sounds, it stands true. If you keep your employees are happy, they will keep innovating and your business will boom.

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PHOTO: Stock

If however you don’t pay your employees on time, make them work unduly hard, they will jump to the next job they can find.

Inspire your employees to treat customers better. Motivate them to think like a customer. Always remember, it is your company, your dream, they are only there to work. If you press them more than it is required, they will take all they have learned from you and go to work for someone else.

Make your employees loyal and you’ll see that the innovation will follow your business like a bee to honey.

As a conclusion, the future of your business depends on your customers, technology is just a tool. It’s all about how you use tools at your disposal for the betterment of your customers.

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