The end of the organisation as we know it?

The end of the organisation as we know it?
– by Matt English

“Old habits die hard” is a familiar saying, and we see this play out in daily life in so many ways. Changing a golf swing or modifying the route taken to work is difficult because we become very content and possibly complacent with the existing pattern or behaviour.

Organisations both large and small face exactly the same challenges, and affecting a major change can be painful and difficult no matter how strong the business case or the need for change.

But technology in particular is having a profound impact on how organisations function and interact with their customers and employees. In the same way that the lander Curiosity has recently opened up new horizons on Mars, technology is helping organisations define new horizons in the way they operate.

The organisation as we know it is under siege on several fronts, and executives are being confronted by shifts occurring at great speed. In particular, they are on notice regarding the need for an urgent change of focus in four key organisation capabilities:

1. Moving from customer management to customer responsiveness
Historically, customer management was focussed around the relationship of the business to the customer and vice versa. Today however, this has expanded dramatically thanks particularly to the explosion of social media in the past five years. The customer to customer influence has now escalated in prominence, and responsiveness to this development is now top of mind for most organisations. In particular, various consumer facing organisations such as telcos and retailers are transforming the speed and nature of their customer interactions and responsiveness.

2. Shifting from hierarchical organisation to horizontal organisation
The hierarchical organisation has been a stalwart over many decades. But its success was heavily dependent on formal structure and hierarchy, and segregation between the organisation and its stakeholders. Technology is now dismantling such constraints as a result of the quantity and transparency of information that is readily and quickly available. This demands a flatter or more horizontal view across the organisation and its stakeholders. The influence of social media across many consumer facing industries is the rapidly evolving facet in this regard.

3. Re-aligning from product and service development to product and service collaboration
Various industries have begun to embrace the way they shape and deliver changes to their products and services. Retailers and products organisations for example are now using various collaboration tools such as chat rooms to enable such change.

4. Being data rich to being more decision support
Advances in technology have caused massive amounts of data to be created in proportions never thought possible just a few years ago. But recent growth in the field of analytics has meant that sensible conclusions and decisions can now be effectively made from such large volumes of data. Think about the big changes happening in areas such as customer segmentation and campaign management for banks and insurance organisations.

The issue is not whether these capabilities need to change, but rather how quickly they will change the organisation as we know it. The winners will be those organisations and industries that strongly embrace these as truly new horizons and major change initiatives, and deliver them accordingly to add value.


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