David has the edge on Goliath

David returns triumphant with the head of Goliath (Palazzo Ferrari, Genoa)
David returns triumphant with the head of Goliath (Palazzo Ferrari, Genoa)

Is success in business due to luck or hard work? It used to be that if you worked hard and invested astutely in your business that you could expect to be rewarded. Build it and they will come. Times have changed though, and more and more often it seems that all that hard work goes to waste when an unknown (and previously unseen) competitor emerges from nowhere to steal the market from under your nose. Success has become random with the business environment perpetually unstable and in constant flux. The market is hit-driven rather than being based on careful investment. Success now depends on coming up with the right product at the right time, and having a fairly large dose of luck. Business development used to mean investing in your business and building up the assets under its control. Now it means maximising your business’s luck (or minimising the luck of others).

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Dynamic pricing and the race to the bottom

I see that online retailers have been admiring the yield management techniques used by airlines and hotels{{1}}. After all, what’s not to like about profit maximisation? Consumer goods, however, are not a time sensitive resource who’s value crashes to zero after a particular date. Online retailers might just be starting an arms war with customers that they cannot win. The result will be a race to the bottom as mounting pressure compresses already tight margins.

[[1]]Brian Proffitt (September 2012), How much will it cost you? With Dynamic Pricing, online sellers say ‘It depends’.., ReadWriteWeb[[1]]

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My book, ‘The New Instability’, is finally available

Cover of The New InstabilityAfter much effort my book, ‘The New Instability’, has finally found its way through the channel and is now available as a paperback, ePub (iPad, Nook) and mobi (Kindle).

The nutshell summary:

The uncertain economic and business condition is not simply a passing phase, a confluence of technology is changing the how the business environment and old business models and strategies built around acquiring and leveraging assets are breaking down. A new generation of companies are rethinking how business should operate and discovering business models that are orders of magnitude more efficient than the previous lot. How have they done this? And how can how do it?

It you would like to know more then you can find an extract from the book on the ‘Extract’ page on the book’s web site.

You can buy it as:

I’ll update the ‘Where to buy’ page as it finds it’s way out into the wild.

As retail dies, who will be the winners?

The high street is dying. Retailers are struggling to attract customers to their stores. When they do manage to get them in the retailers worry about the same customers using their smartphones to buy a product they've just picked up from the shelf, from an internet retailer. Retail gurus are telling the high street that they need to make their stores more inviting if they want to continue attracting an ever more fickle public; ensuring that there's accessible parking for baby boomers who don't like walking, QR codes on all the products for smartphone wielding Gen Ys, and so. This ignores the fact that globalisation, the internet and mobile phones have fundamentally changed the way we shop. Consumers haven't just become more fickle, how we go about buying the goods and services we need is in the process of being transformed and any retailer that is little more than the last step in someone else's supply chain has a poor chance of surviving.

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You don’t need a social media strategy

Social media has entered the mainstream and the consultants and gurus are out there telling everyone that they absolutely must have a social media strategy. It's rare for a week to go by without hearing of another company wondering about the wisdom of their new blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, part of a social media strategy someone has sold them. I find this all quite mad. If social media has gone main stream then it has changed from being a tool that you might choose to use to add value, to become something that you cannot afford to ignore if you want to keep up. This doesn't mean that you need a social media strategy though. What you need is a communication strategy. Adding social media to the mix doesn't excuse you from working to understand who you want to communicate with, where they are and what you want to say to them. Social media will be a part of this strategy but it won't be the only thing, and its not a reason to ignore the fundamentals.

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The future of exchanging value

Cover for ‘The future of exchanging value’ reportI had the pleasure, over the last few months, of working with Peter Williams (Centre for the Edge) and Ian Harper (Access Economics) at Deloitte to pull together a report on the future of money. You can find the result of our deliberations on the Deloitte web site in the report The future of exchanging value{{1}}. Down load it, mull over the questions it raises, and share your thoughts.

[[1]]Peter Evans-Greenwood, Ian Harper & Peter Williams (2012), The future of exchanging value: Uncovering new ways of spending, Centre for the Edge, Deloitte[[1]]

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What is the future of IT in business?

I’ve come to the realisation that there are no good forums for folk trying to understand what new operational models and opportunities the current technological and business environments might offers us. Somewhere to toss back and forth new ways of solving problems, not just incremental improvements on what was done in the past. Somewhere inclusive enough to involve small, medium and large businesses, and not just start ups.

Rather than continuing to complain about this to friends over beers, I thought I might see if I can start one.

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