The future is adaptation & this applies to your industry, too

Feature | 15 December 2020

The future of telecommunications is adaptation. We know this well at MATE. The telco industry is ultimately responsible for the incredibly connected world that we live in today. Are you reading this on a smartphone? Check. Will you stream some Netflix tonight? Check. Will you text your partner about what takeaway to grab for dinner (and then use the UberEATS app to get it)? Check (and check).

Maintaining that connectedness and driving worldwide digitisation can only be done through adaptations that enable innovations in the way that we work, in the technologies that we use and in the services we provide.

But telecommunications isn’t the only industry that requires businesses to adapt to thrive. This applies to your industry, too.

The future is adaptability

Our recent crisis has created an incredible array of changes globally, impacting nearly all industries (including telecommunications). Some of these changes will be temporary, but some may last for a much longer time. And it’s important to remember that the world is changing anyway (despite COVID). If you can’t adapt, you’re going to get left behind.

Look at your growth opportunities

A crisis gives you challenges, but it also gives you opportunities. If you’re looking to bring your business out of a crisis in a stronger position, you need to understand how to grasp those opportunities. And that means understanding changing behaviours.

Mapping behavioural trends will give you a good understanding of products or services that will likely grow (or not) as a result. For example, as people have been working from home, leadership teams and employees have both seen the benefits that this can bring to a workforce. More flexibility, more time with families, more feelings of trust.

While people are heading back into the office, there are opportunities here to embrace more flexibility and increase the mental health of employees going forward. But in order to fully understand the options, we need to understand the new habits and their effects. Will these be long-term or short-term changes? What trends might follow on from more employees working from home? And how can you use those knock-on effects to your advantage?

Your analysis of growth opportunities needs to identify what you know, but also challenge your ideas about what should be happening, and allow you to see the data with fresh eyes. And that will allow you to make adaptations that will help your business thrive.

Love your data

Adaptations come as a result of change. But our understanding of those changes come as a result of data.

Let’s take our staff flexible working arrangements as an example. Prior to COVID, we had analysed our own data that showed that more employees wanted flexible working arrangements. This wasn’t just in the telecommunications industry, but in industries across Australia and even the world. This global shift pushed us to implement technology that would allow all our staff to work from home – even our call centre staff – despite this not being generally done in the telco space.

We implemented this change prior to the crisis. The result? We were better able to weather lockdowns because our staff were available to support our customers when offshore teams for other telcos were not. But the data also showed us that this is a trend that will continue post-crisis. So, we know that we need to continue to adapt to this new way of looking at business and staffing.

Your data will help you identify trends that are here to stay, and respond to them in a way that will future proof your business despite short term upheavals.

Reimagine your business model

Just because you’ve done things one way for a long time, doesn’t mean you should continue on in the same way. Your business model will be shaped by demand and supply shifts that impact your industry, and you should always flex and mould it depending on those impacts.

When we came into the telco industry, bigger, seasoned companies were despairing over the new, slim nbn margins. Some didn’t want to adapt and simply refused to offer nbn at all. Others, like us, simply looked at how we could reimagine our business model to work under these changing conditions. As you can imagine, the growth in the industry was with those second companies, like ourselves. The other companies were left to stagnate.

If your industry is changing, your business model needs to as well. Consider whether you can take more of your services online or utilise the cloud. Where can you automate or innovate with new technologies? What new platforms are available for you to work with? Can you expand your customer niche or the services or products you offer?

Invest

Adaptation means taking risks. And even though it seems counterproductive to invest more resources during changing times, this is exactly what you should be doing. A staggering 70% of all business failures are the direct result of that organisation’s inability to adapt. On the other hand, 90% of organisations that adapt by embedding digital, analytical and agile skills into marketing, sales and pricing capabilities are delivering and sustaining above-market growth over time.

In other words, they’re investing in those things that allow them to adapt and respond to their changing industry. It’s not enough to be the first cab off the rank anymore when it comes to new products or innovations. The window for a competitive advantage is narrowing as competitors quickly jump on new ideas. But having an agile organisation that is constantly innovating, spotting and reacting to new opportunities is the answer. And to get that you need to invest in your business – in your people, in your platforms and systems and in your marketing and sales capabilities.

Takeaway

Your organisation can’t afford to be held back by the way things have always been done. You need to adapt by acquiring new information sources, new business models and new investment opportunities. And you need to grab all these growth opportunities with both hands in order to shepherd your business into the future.