When buying, for example a Volkswagen Phaeton, you can get to know what stage of the process it is going through, from manufacturing to transportation and delivery. In fact from your own PC you will be able to take a look at workers doing their job on your future vehicle.
When a meeting is relevant, the place where it will be held becomes a secondary issue, since it is possible to arrange a videoconference from the beach while enjoying the sun with your family, or even hold it on a Sunday afternoon, should the other party be in Hong Kong starting their labour week.
Not long ago, company’s information was reported, depending on the case, once a day, once a month, once every quarter or on a yearly basis. Today we have the possibility of checking, analyzing and deciding based on real-time online information.
Impatience can be appreciated in critical situations. In the past, wars lasted long periods of time. Unfortunately, today they have become another soap box opera-show we watch in our TV screens, and since we get horrified, on the other hand, we want a quick end, but on the other, we look forward to some action.
This can be understood as a change from a scarce to an over-information situation, which in many cases makes decision processes more difficult, and generates lack of confidence. Models applied today include more and more variables, and therefore become more complex. Besides, since all that data is on-line, such variables change every second.
All these make companies change from working with possible scenarios to probable strategic options. The key issue is to select the right information for our decision making process, so as to give chances to each one of the events that might take place. Contingency plans become a function of probability changes.
We have passed to live and go through our lives, relationships and businesses from black and white situations to ones in different shades of grey. Immediateness, endless options, over-information and diffuse boundaries in a way surpass our expectations, all of which makes us need some certainties to improve our life style.
It is possible that the most important issue for companies, regardless their size, location and sector they may belong to, is that the rules of the game have changed, and, in that sense, offer and demand go beyond their traditional boundaries.
No matter if the company’s current scope is global or not, there exists a global offer of similar products and services which certainly is, and a demand which is no longer round the corner. In fact our product may be attractive for a person living on the other side of the planet.
The range and variety of products that can therefore be offered is growing, and combinations thereof innovative. With the development of new financing tools, automotive companies have ceased to sell automobiles to start offering mobility. Furthermore, they have stopped being companies where products are bought to become selling companies.
Going on with the automobile sector, if we segmented audiences according to their values we would find out that Mercedes-Benz is a brand for people that “have accomplished their goals” whereas BMW is a brand for those who “are on their way to achieve them”. In the case of Mercedes-Benz, issues related to tradition have more incidences, whereas in BMW, accomplishing an objective is what matters.
On the other hand traditional boundaries of offer and demand are diffuse. Relationships are no longer linear from the producer to the final consumer.
If the product needs to reflect a certain degree of self-expression, such target will hardly be accomplished if the consumer is not involved in the creation, development and production processes.
In extreme situations, which can be appreciated in some Internet sites, customers are paid for participating in the development of a new service, therefore the customer becomes a supplier, the company becomes a client and all of them undertake multiple roles simultaneously.
For example, behind a company like Ikea there is not only a solid business model, but a clever idea: “to democratize the design”. The company has established a circular relationship with its customers:
- The client selects those items of his interest from the product display area, taking note on where he will find them in the warehouse.
- Then, this client, who has now turned into warehouse worker, looks for the product, takes it out of the shelves, puts it on a cart and goes towards the cash register.
- At the cash register, he is both “customer and vendor”. He pays a price which indirectly discounts the amount that Ikea has paid to him for his work as an employee, also considering transportation and assembly of the final product.
- At the cash registers the company has established the contact point “company-customer” as well as the Employee-Customer/Human Resources Department relationship”.
Once at home, the client turns into a worker again, carries out the finishing tasks and obtains the final product.
This way, IKEA has democratized the design offer. However this is not a company for everyone. It is basically addressed to an audience with a set of values such as freedom of choice, leisure time management, freedom, tolerance and imagination, among others.