Schlagwort-Archive: Channels

The A7L – the ideal metaphor for basic needs

So far, 27 people were 300,000 km away – twelve of them were on foot and motorized on the moon. Survival was ensured by the Lunar Module and the A7L spacesuit (the seventh and fireproof version of the Pressure Suit Assembly (PSA) of the Apollo missions). In an environment that makes survival impossible without special equipment, people must carry all the necessities of life – the air to breathe, the mandatory pressure balance, air conditioning for the required temperature, supply, and disposal units, and all other necessary functions for the time when they cannot leave the suit. At the same time, freedom of movement, a panoramic view, and the exchange of data should be maintained. Even if business life does not seem so threatening to life, particular basic needs should also be ensured.

The workforce’s basic needs, including executives and business partners, imply the vital building blocks to survive in the VUCA world.

  • Resources
    Sufficient resources to be able to work are essential. These consist of all supplies, such as capable and dedicated staff, knowledge accumulated over time, an up-to-date and sound infrastructure, and sufficient financial resources. As with A7L, survival is seriously threatened if vital resources are missing.
  • Elbowroom
    On the Moon, ALL crucial systems must be carried. Fortunately, they weigh only one sixth of the weight measured on earth. At the same time, maneuverability must be maintained. Just as a spacesuit restricts freedom of movement, bureaucracy limits in business. Myriads provide the necessary tools. If something fails, these employees provide an interim solution until everything is up and running again. The elbowroom is narrowed down by lavish procedures for their approval. This would be equivalent to a long, stiff cable that restricts range and maneuverability on the moon. In all cases, this makes tasks much more complicated.
  • Transparency
    To get an overview of the overall system, you need comprehensive monitoring. Apollo Mission Control included 20-30 experts in Houston and hundreds in the back office. Before powerful computers could take over these roles, employees had to observe and report individual sensors’ deviations. In the past, watchdogs took on the task of collecting measured values and summarizing them in reports. Today, networked IT systems pull data from databases and feed overviews and alerts. In any case, an essential basic need is the availability of data, at any time and ANY place.
  • Communication channels
    To enable all participants’ interaction, data regarding status, problems, ideas, solutions, and other impressions must be exchanged. Even with the Apollo program, voice and image data were exchanged along with a stream of automatically determined digital data. Today’s fast-moving business requires many short-term decisions, which can no longer be made with traditional reporting and decision-making channels. For this, the employees who make the decisions on site need a timely supply of data.
  • Authorities
    However, the best data supply is of no use if on-site decision making is NOT ALLOWED. In hierarchical companies, this is the default mode. Surprisingly, this is also true for companies that think of themselves as customer and employee focused. There is scope for decision-making with short reaction times when excessive reporting and decision-making channels are avoided. The management team does not practice micromanagement, and the acting employees have the necessary authorizations. If Neil Armstrong had not been allowed to take over the lunar module’s manual control, the Eagle would likely have crashed on the moon.

Bottom line: The essential needs of a company are indispensable for the continuance of the business. Just as the A7L ensures astronauts’ survival on the moon, similar building blocks must be provided in the enterprise. It needs the essential resources, without the restriction of movement, with the appropriate transparency, a trouble-free exchange of data, and, above all, sufficient authority for the acting people. Bureaucratic reporting and decision-making, a traditional leadership style, and corrupted resources by exaggerated stinginess further burden unsatisfying basic needs. If the A7l were in a comparable state, astronauts would not be conducting field missions on the moon or in space. In business, a few dedicated employees ensure that the survival of the company is not threatened. The A7L, with its life-supporting functions, is the ideal metaphor for basic needs.


Digital business model check in the face of Corona

In business life, small, medium, and large companies are always dealing with all kinds of changes. The invisible mutations appear here only in retrospect. Regular overhauls require the new processes. Technical novelties force upgrades and extensive changeovers. Everything takes place in a global context, which is difficult due to political borders.

Now COVID-19 shows that the effects of a pandemic are not just a viral threat. Global travel routes spread infections at blazing speed. However, nobody expected that the culture of mass sporting, cultural, and tourist events would lead to Superspreadings.

So far, risk analysis classified pandemics as an unlikely health threat. The indirect consequences for the economy and society were not on the radar screen. Now it becomes apparent that countries and even regions are closing their borders for fear of infection. Global mobility is collapsing. Logistics chains move only essential goods. Allowed are the systemically relevant industries – health and medical, water and energy suppliers, waste management companies, food manufacturers and distributors, logistics and storage companies, information, and communication services.

Anyone talking about a return to growth is misjudging the situation. It is now a matter of survival as a world, country, company, family, and human being. In the context of social distancing, it is time for companies to examine the digital change readiness.

The Business Model Canvas provides a helpful structure. Let us take a closer look at the individual fields.

  • Customer segments
    Regions with poor Internet connectivity have little digital opportunities – e.g., simple smartphone apps. if possible, that require small bandwidth. Some customers depend on mainframe systems from the last millennium – the low level of cloud usage and interconnectedness requires support when switching to the 21st Companies that keep their IT state-of-the-art need powerful interfaces for their offerings – e.g., cloud-based touchpoints as well as increased use of multi-media, and mobile services. To be able to select the most potent measures, customers should be sorted according to their significance and digital affinity.
  • Value proposition
    With the eyes of the customers, you can take a look at your offers. Which ones are already or can be easily digitized? Looking at it is mainly about the services that have been offered so far through personal contact. There are many different ways to deliver a service via the Internet – e.g., a visual hotline, video chats, webinars, or virtual publications. Determine the advantages that arise for customers and check whether you can provide these services economically. Eventually, describe and communicate your value proposition to current customers. Do not forget to show your new offers on the Internet to those who are not yet your customers.
  • Channels
    Personal contact must be spread over a larger area due to the distance rules. The regulations make digital channels more interesting. After almost thirty years of the Internet, it is time to deal with them. Those who have already established channels have an advantage – starting with offline media such as videos and PDFs and moving on to web-based ones such as e-mail, websites, blogs, chats, forums, and the like. The question is, what should be expanded or used more intensively. It is also a question of identifying and introducing new opportunities – including the economic aspects (see below).
  • Customer relations
    Services that can be digitized range from personalized support, to help for DIY with appropriate digital learning packages, to the creation of communities with mutual help. You should ask yourself: What kinds of digitization do the customer segments expect? Which digital interfaces have we already established? What digital touchpoints exist? How much do digital relationships cost?
  • Income sources
    Digitization is not available for free. Therefore, the questions on the income side should be answered. What digital benefits are the customer willing to pay? Which digital offers are already paid for by the customer? Which digital payment procedures have already been introduced? Which digital payment methods do the customer want? What proportion can digital services achieve? Do not let yourself be dazzled by apparently free offers. You just have not recognized the costs yet. Unfortunately, this perspective results also in customers being unwilling to pay for digital services. Clarify your revenue model and underline the advantages of your offer – e.g., no use of data by third parties, data security, hosting in a safe country.
  • Core activities
    You need a clear understanding of what you require in order to deliver digital services – to render your value proposition, in your distribution channels, in your customer relationships, and for your digital revenue streams. The entire value creation process is involved – development, production, sales, after-sales, and all cross-sectional tasks. Digitization accelerates all activities, as the boundaries between the areas affected are reduced to a single click, towards suppliers and customers, and geographically. Just think of logistics systems that handle the management of freight through automated agents – the container searches for its route, books the necessary freight space, and reliably arrives at the port of destination as soon as possible.
  • Core resources
    Your current resources have the capabilities that your old business model required. Digitization needs new skills – e.g., handling the laptop/ smartphone/ IPAD/ computer, mastering all kinds of software, as well as telepresence in video conferencing. It is not enough to provide the appropriate programs. The employees AND managers need proper introduction/training. People are the eye of the needle through which the elephant must pass. Besides, you need the appropriate hardware and software, access to the Internet wherever you are. At the same time, existing office space can be used for other purposes. The crucial resource is the money to procure the means – and this at a time when sales are declining.
  • Core partners
    The idea that the IT sector is predestined for digitization may be right, but it ignores the actual tasks that are currently being carried out. Furthermore, the predominant work consists of operating the running systems and solving problems. You need new partners and suppliers. Who are the main digitization partners? Who are the main digitization suppliers? Which digitization resources come from whom? You should consider that after Corona, these partners will remain part of your extended enterprise.
  • Cost structure
    The most critical point at last. What costs are incurred as a result of digitization? How are the digitization costs distributed? What costs do digital activities generate? Many people believe that you can run your business with the many free tools from the Internet. Considering the implementation and personnel costs, this is not advisable as these free tools have limited possibilities, which in turn generate exceeding personnel costs – up to the point of shutting down the provider of such a product if the users do not contribute to their efforts. Since budgets are no longer covered by sales anyway, it is crucial to plan the business model holistically, i.e., to concentrate on the revenue generators – and nothing else.

Bottom line: In Paris, a star cook had to close her restaurant due to Corona, while costs continued to run. She quickly adapted her business model. In the beginning, she sold homemade cookies and discovered that customers appreciated this new business. Now she offers goods from the region. This kind of flexibility and decisiveness is required today. By reviewing your business model concerning new digital services (see above), you can adapt your business. After Corona will not be comparable to the past.