2013: Another Year of the Same Old, Same Old? Part III

In Parts I and II we lamented the relative lack of new innovation in the space for the last few years, as most of the big announcements, and innovations, have centered around technologies that were in (initial) development of the first half of the noughts, and usability and applicability (to specific verticals) in particular before noting that we don't see much new in the way of trends coming this year and that we're not alone.

In the last two posts, we covered the global trends identified by ChainLink Research in their recently published Big Trends for Business 2013 as well as the business trends companies expect to the capitalize on this year as a result. In the first case, it almost looks like the Mayans were right, the world came to a stop, and then immediately reversed direction as it looks like we're in for 2012 all over again and in the latter case, the trends are the same trends they should have been capitalizing on last year!

And if this isn't bad enough, the big issues identified by ChainLink are the same issues we've been facing for years. The big issues identified were:

  • Working Capital Management
    There's a squeeze up and down the chain -- customers want to take longer to pay, suppliers want to be paid sooner. Plus, it's getting harder to support the unprofitable product lines and the customers that cost more than they're worth -- but what, and who, are they?
  • Cost/Pricing
    Costs need to be kept down, more has to be done with less, and customers are continually demanding lower prices while inflation is coming back with a vengeance.
  • Channel Development
    More outlets are needed to sell more product to generate the revenue required for profitability.
  • Skilled Workforce
    Finding, and retaining, a skilled workforce is a critical issue to companies.
  • ChequeBook Under Lock and Key
    Because of the uncertainty, the chequebooks is under lock and key and the company is still hoarding cash instead of spending it.
  • Risk Management
    Seeing disruptions are on the rise, now more than ever, many companies are concerned about what could happen to them.

Add the really sad thing is the underlying reasons we are facing these problems haven't changed for years either:

  • They still haven't learned what working capital management is
    Most companies think extending DPO is good working capital management! In fact, a few think that 200 days is just fine! I'm anxious to see what company has this conversation first!
  • They still haven't figured out that you can't squeeze blood from a stone or that savings are a thing of the past
  • And that the only path left to success is to focus on value.
  • They're still afraid of trusting someone to the extent required to truly hand over a sales channel they can't manage in house.
    If you can't handle Twitter, you shouldn't even try.
  • They always cut the training budget first.
    It's not someone else's job to train your workforce, it's yours! And stop putting the blame on the Universities - it's not a University's job to train your workforce, it's a University's job to introduce someone to higher learning, deeper thought, and intellectual pursuits -- not the practical skills you need.
  • They still haven't figured out uncertainty NEVER goes away.
    There's always risk, but there's always opportunity -- and, moreover, the opportunity is typically created by someone with the guts to actually do something!
  • They still haven't even given someone the responsibility of managing risk!
    If it's not anyone's responsibility, who's going to do it? The shoemaker's elves?

In short, most companies are standing still with the same problem set because they haven't learned what they need to learn.

 

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