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Four Business Ideas your Organization Should Consider in 2014

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As 2013 draws to a close, many organizations are reviewing their results for the year and planning for 2014. With sectors of the global economy recovering at varying paces, companies are looking to see how to be competitive and productive at the same time.

Here are four areas organizations should be looking at, from my point of view:

#1: Learn the best lessons from other industries, not just your own

Often, organizations look to peers and competitors in the same industry for benchmarking financial and operational performance. Don’t forget that best practices and innovation can cross over from one industry to the next. For example, Velcro and Teflon were both invented by NASA, but found uses in home improvement and cookware. Also consider:

• If you are in banking and insurance, practices and technologies in retail and e-commerce are often applicable since you are targeting the same consumer. Think about how retail e-commerce changed the face of online banking.
• If you are in the healthcare business, part of the hospital operations model is similar to the lodging business, in terms of customer service and resource management. Think about check-in, room management and physical security processes.
• The technology infrastructure support of large sports venues like the Sochi Olympics is applicable to large education or manufacturing campuses, or small cities. Think about ubiquitous wireless access, peak load management and backup systems.

#2: Forget about showrooming or webrooming – It’s all one big customer experience channel

In the ongoing debate about channels, showrooming (browsing in stores and buying online) and webrooming (browsing online to buy in stores) are constantly in the news, as experts debate which channel will usurp another.

In reality, today’s organizations and consumers are all adapted to communicate and transact to ALL channels depending on the scenario. Whether it is email, text message, video conferencing, website self-service, in-person or voice communication, organizations need to be able to communicate and transact by varying degrees across ALL channels.

The key to success now is to maintain a cohesive view of the customer and deliver consistent brand experience across all channels that take advantage of the benefits of each channel.

#3: The next generation of employees is not like their predecessors

Numerous books and studies have been written about millennials, Generation Me, and children today being raised on technology. I have seen children playing with tablets while still in strollers. I am expecting solar chargers for child strollers coming soon.

Fisher Price Apptivity SeatPhoto: Fisher Price’s Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat

Employers will need to adapt to these workers, who often own more advanced technology than what corporate IT departments are issuing. Their expectations on connectivity and response time will challenge traditional IT processes and investment models.

To keep the employees motivated and productive, IT needs to drive value and innovations to support the business issues employees are addressing, rather than simply being the gatekeeper of standards and efficiency.

#4: Watch for big disruptions driven by society, demographics and technologies

Finally, as you look into 2014, don’t forget to check for disruptions that can change the nature of your industry.
10 years ago, the idea of mobile communications, personal video conferencing, and augmented reality were still mostly the stuff of Star Trek. Venerable video rental, book store and film brands found their business models turned upside down.

As new trends and technologies are available to consumers and businesses alike, think about the impact to your business and how to avoid being obsoleted. Better yet, learn to take advantage of these changes to grow your business.

I hope you all have a great 2014 and I look forward to reading your comments or suggestions on other topics I should explore in the future.

Kenneth Leung is the director of enterprise industry marketing at Avaya. Kenneth’s background includes technology and industry marketing with focus in retail and other industries for Cisco, IBM and Informix Software. He is based in San Francisco, California and can be reached at http://about.me/kennethleung. To learn more about Avaya industry marketing please visit www.avaya.com/usa/solutions/industry more

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