I certainly spend more time shopping online these days than in the mall and I don’t think I’m alone. The internet allowed for “online shopping” that in turn created online-retailers like Amazon and Overstock, but they were the only businesses visible on the front line. While malls suffered from this shift in buying behavior, other industries benefited.
At the next tier, companies like United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx) have seen huge increases in the use of ground shipping as more and more people turn to online shopping. The change to the business landscape of UPS and FedEx came about through no efforts of their own and dramatizes the need for companies to keep a panoramic view of the business horizon to detect changes that will ultimately affect their business.
UPS and FedEx simply had to be observant of changing events (more demand for standard ground shipments) so they could properly position or grow their specific assets to take maximum advantage of this shift.
As I sit here pondering what changing events are occurring today that will be game changes in the near future, I keep coming back to the robot/application arbitrage.
As we discussed in “How Amazon’s Alexa Is the Flint that Will Spark a Business Revolution”, the attributes you value today and got you to where you are today, may not be the same attributes that will make you successful in the “internet of things” world that is taking shape in the near future.
Moreover, self-driving vehicles will soon have a profound impact on all forms of transportation. Recently, a semi-truck full of beer traveled from the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado to its delivery location in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a distance of over 130 miles without driver assistance.
According to an October 2016 article in Business Insider, some of the richest companies like Tesla, Uber, Google, Apple, and Amazon as well as all the major auto makers are pouring millions into developing this self-driving technology. Moreover, many colleges and universities are working on drones that will be capable of delivering packages the final mile to their customer’s doorstep.
Why is all this important to small businesses? While UPS and FedEx made sure they were in a position to take advantage of increased online shopping, they simply responded to external forces that they did not control over or that were not core to their business model. Today to my knowledge, neither UPS nor FedEx are investing in autonomous vehicle or drone technology, a mistake that may make their entire business model obsolete.
Step one, therefore, is for successful businesses to make careful observations of changes on their horizon and formulate plans today that they can execute as the landscape changes.
Step two is to invest in, or at least understand and apply, technology others are using. By utilizing technology properly, you will certainly revitalize your business model. Otherwise, you risk suffering an end-around by your suppliers who do a better job leveraging technology than you.
How much time do you spend looking for ideas that will fundamentally change your business model?
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