Is the battle at the point of sale or is it in the hearts and minds of consumers???
It is not the sophistication of the device that wins out but the perception of the user that prevails, at some point we will see a plateau in technological advances in favor of a growth in the careful presentation of existing technology to specific markets.
We as consumers will be happy to buy ‘old’ technology if it serves our purpose and maintains the emotional connection we have with our devices.
Being successful is more than being solvent, it is more than being number one and is more than being trendy although all of those things may well form part of a successful company profile. It is in the detail of how we do business that we can understand whether we are successful at what we do or not. If making money was the only benchmark of success then great swathes of the commercial sector would be expunged from the record books …there must be more to success than money, surely?
A great friend of mine hails form Tel Aviv, he has lived in the USA for nearly 30 years and is very much living the American life. One day we were chatting about our boss, at that time we both endured a work situation which was the poster child for how not to treat people and do business. He turned to me with a look of solemnity during one of my rants and said ‘Patrick!!! Remember , the fish rots from the head!’ The conversation ended and I was suitably admonished and educated all in one sentence.
In that simple utterance he reminded me of the fact that any organisation is only as good as the person at the top of it, their values and perspective will pervade the company, no matter how many good guys are put between the front line and the boss. It is not enough to have a great product or service , you need more than a committed workforce, a good market share etc etc you need to have an environment where the people, the products, the customers are all valued, able to progress and are relevant.
The boss is not just the person who makes the most money and the guy or gal everyone tries to please because they sign the cheque…the boss needs to be secure enough in themselves to see who is better than them at certain tasks, to allow mistakes in the pursuit of innovation, to embrace change and to always look to make the work easier and more rewarding and less of a chore. Yes , they do need to wield the axe sometimes and to exercise disciplinary authority sometimes but not as a rule and only as a last resort…..it is these bosses who win…all the others without exception fail, that is just the way it is.
Change in a company is hard to manage , people like the effects of change more than they like the process of change, change can be unsettling but it is needed in order to grow. When change is taking place the most important victory in that process is the winning of peoples hearts and minds….when people are with you , when they support you and when they work with you , you become unstoppable.
Recently I have seen some very interesting articles about how the school system in the US and abroad is looking to incorporate the latest technology in the classroom in order to equip the students for the future and also to avail themselves of the magnificent content available. It seems clear that the company which has won the hearts and minds of the majority of the school system is Apple…everybody wants iPads in the classroom. One school district in Minnesota is proposing spending nearly $3million to give every child in every school an iPad despite the fact that the beneficial influence of technology in learning outcomes has yet to be proven beyond doubt.
‘Target’ stores in the US are phasing out their sale of the ‘Kindle’ as it represents a conflict of interest with their developing partnership with Apple….imagine them cutting their commitment to general Mills because it conflicted with their deal with Kellogg’s…no exactly , you can’t!
What is it about Apple ….the British parliament is proposing to buy each of the 650 members of parliament an iPad , so they can …..play Angry Birds?????
This info-graphic from Cool Infographics shows just how big Apple has become……. it is more a force of nature than a company, will it continue? Probably, not because everything they do is perfect but because the company that usurps them will have to be spectacularly innovative and be able to completely redefine what we want from our devices.
I don’t think there is anyone out there who has the energy to think about doing that, let alone the fortitude to try……
In Panama the idea is to put ‘tablet desks’ in the schools, they want the whole desk to be a tablet with sophisticated accessibility for the student from both home and school environments.
‘Tab Times’ reports,’The government of Panama is teaming up with French-Canadian start-up ExoPC to introduce a 32-inch ‘tablet desk’ for students to use. ExoPC has signed a deal with the government of Panama to equip a pilot physics classroom with 20 of these ‘tablet desk’ devices, which each have a 32-inch LCD display and go by the name of the ‘EXOdesk’. Not to say that Apple has the best product for the job in schools , there are a growing group who believe Google has a better solution for classroom needs BUT although there is a technical and financial argument for not using Apple the overall positive attitude people have to Apple products is too big to sway. Not only do the children want iPads , the parents want them , the average guy paying his tax dollars wants one , the cheque writers want one even if there is a strong argument for another method.
Apple wins, the rest a poor second….Apple may well be the ubiquitous technology both in schools and in general in the near future.
So how did all this happen? Perhaps it was the culture within the company which pursued excellence relentlessly and gave creative minds a platform to perform, to fail and succeed in equal measure. They have kept their focus on their fundamental aims and not strayed from those aims….. so much so many of their competitors are producing products which look exactly like the iPhone and iPad……Samsung Galaxy Note for example. Apple is the Hoover of vacuum cleaners , the Big Mac of burgers, the Kleenex of tissues, they have neutered their competition to the point that competitors products are deemed good if they compare well to Apple…..this did not happen overnight.
Apple is not the only company which set the standard, listen to this short interview with Howard Shultz of Starbucks about how he re-focused the company to get back to their original stance and in turn transformed performance and fortune to effectively rescue the company;
Things that allow control to go to those who can do the job, changing the mindset from chore to fun, using technology as an empowerment tool and not a threat, treating employees as peers not children and realising that a good company should be a community and more.
It is in the pursuit of these attributes that we succeed, not by hitting a home run with one product and spending the following years trying to replicate the moment without ever understanding how it happened in the first place.
When a company has its employees first and foremost it has a chance to succeed with its customers.
When the company and the consumer can exchange ideas and improve the company, without the boundaries usual in the ‘us and them’ world of corporate companies, the company becomes part of the fabric of the consumers life………game, set and match .
see you on the long and winding road…… Patrick