How to take advantage of a faster, more connected world

The world has changed. We have never been more inter-connected and things are moving at a ridiculously fast pace. Are you taking advantage of this new world or are you breathing someone else's exhaust?

We now have access to our customers in a way that we have never seen before. Within hours, organizations can gather valuable feedback on new ideas for products and services or solicit suggestions for new products or services, or even gather suggestions on where a company should make a charitable donation. With crowdsourcing, online communities, blogs and other similar vehicles, we are able to tap into a customer base that is engaged and ready to provide insights.

Companies like Facebook, Coca Cola, McDonald's and many others are constantly gathering real-time feedback from customers. Companies are even creating specific websites to interact with their customers because they realize that they have a unique opportunity to tap into volumes of information not only about their own organization, but also about their competitors. Customer satisfaction has never been more transparent.

But what is the nature of those connections? Emails are replacing phone calls. Social media is replacing face-to-face meetings. We regularly have people doing business with each other even though they have never met.

With Silicon Valley driving much of the change in many industries, what does the company of the future look like and how do we take advantage of this inter-connected world? For these successful companies, we see a pattern of what they do:

  1. They apply solid business principles-Just because the world is more connected doesn't mean that basic business strategies won't work. You still need to know who can most benefit from the products and services you offer and how can you best reach them.
  2. They know where their customers hang out-Not all customers are on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or read blogs or watch videos or post comments, so you need to ensure that any strategy you develop will reach those who it is intended to reach.
  3. They build communities-Many of these successful companies use their customers as evangelists and ambassadors for their brand. Determine the type of people you want in your community and the best way to communicate with them.
  4. They hire the best people-These successful companies aren't afraid to recruit the best people from other organizations to keep their organization strong. They recognize the importance of leadership and accountability.
  5. They are diversified-These organizations are flexible enough to enter into different businesses to diversify revenues and their customer base, and are also smart enough to figure out how to integrate those different revenue streams and customer bases to identify even greater growth opportunities.
  6. They execute effectively-These organizations are able to not only generate great ideas, but more importantly, they are able to implement them successfully.

So despite the fact that many of the new companies we read about are technology companies, we read about them because they are operationally excellent. They focus on the success factors above to ensure they achieve results and stay at the top of their industries.

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