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Banking and furniture industries — coping at high velocity!

overwhelmed.jpgIt’s been a busy week, with keynotes for the American Community Bankers Association and the National Home Furnishings Association. This gave me an audience of several hundred CEO’s and senior marketing/sales VP’s of some pretty big organizations.

And I can tell you this: the undercurrent of the mood within both conferences was one of being “overwhelmed” by high velocity change! New methods of marketing, a constantly higher bar of expectations from customers, a need for relentless customer oriented innovation to meet those expectations, an accelerated product innovation cycle with a need for a faster time to market. Web 2.0, collaborative networks, social networking, new media spending, YouTube, Google! What the heck does one do!?

The mindset of many senior executives today is “where do we start? My keynotes approached this by indicating the three organizational capabilities they must adjust for:

  • velocity: they must evolve their organizations so that they can operate at the very fast pace that today’s market demands
  • instantaneity: they must be prepared for rapid shifts in market, style, demand, fashion, product, service, and just about everything else!
  • short term spontaneity: the consumer has no attention span left; they must learn to market, support and sell to the “continuous partial attention customer.”

My advice to them for the short term? I suggested to both audiences:

  • focus on upside down innovation: turn existing innovation models around, by learning customer focused innovation. I’ve written about that on this blog before; it is a trend that is sweeping the world of retail, and is coming to impact financial services
  • use the “new influencers” : some people are overwhelmed with product/service decision making : what should I get? What should I buy? They are increasingly turning to someone to help; in the case of furniture, parents seeking a home theater are turning to their kids for help! Re-steer your markeitng campaign to get the kids to get the parents in the door!
  • develop knowledge agility: sales staff are overwhelmed too. Help them cope, by focusing on just-in-time knowledge on new products, services, campaigns and other customer focused efforts.
  • focus on location-intelligence capabilities: online search increasingly drives customer decisions. It’s become extremely narrow and specific in the last year: you need to boost your ability to make sure you show up with very specific location information.
  • build your experiential capital: take risks. Make mistakes! Do things! Learn from it — that’s your experiential capital, and it is the most important asset in the high velocity economy! You can’t just sit around and hope this rapid change will go away. It won’t — and it’s going to get faster.

I think the feeling of being overwhelmed is a common one. Based on the comments post-keynote last night, I think I hit the right mark with the observations, and the guidance.

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