Take it from this management speaker: Agility is essential to organizations hoping to remain competitive in today’s fast-moving and highly unpredictable business world. Consider that nearly two-thirds of firms on the Inc. magazine 500 list can now go from idea to market in as little as one month. Even global giants suddenly have teams introducing apps every six weeks for less than $25,000 apiece.
So here’s a trade secret that’s useful to know if you want to succeed in competitive environments like the modern marketplace. Innovation isn’t about having more money, more manpower, or cutting-edge solutions. Like we management speakers frequently note: It’s about being resourceful, adaptable and resilient. The more flexible and relentlessly committed to addressing customers’ needs you are? The more you can successfully surf waves of change instead of letting them crash over you.
For example: In Kenya, over 90% of the population has no formal health or healthcare insurance. One organization manages care for two-thirds of them. Forty individual insurance companies are competing for the other million. So how does anyone play in such a challenging market? Not using traditional strategies. Instead, providers are cleverly turning to delivering cost-effective care via mobile phones and payments, which are accessible by nine in ten adults.
Business strategies here don’t revolve around networks of brokers or all-purpose packages. Instead, they revolve around digital transaction platforms, where healthcare can be purchased in small, affordable slices on-demand, and shoppers pay only for services used. Using mobile phones, prepaid cards and even unused rollover minutes, users can now:
- Call or Videoconference with Doctors and Pay By Call
- Receive Medical Vouchers in Paperless Form
- Prepay for Contract Pricing Packages
- File and Settle Claims on Mobile Devices
In short, providers don’t try to superimpose preexisting strategies on new and emerging markets. They offer novel solutions specifically tailored for the territory, and customized to highly-differentiated user segments.
As we management speakers have noted as well, similarly inventive approaches are also being applied to Western nations with large, but rapidly-changing marketplaces too.
In America, national drugstore chain Walgreens faced a challenging market. After a public dispute with a prescription partner, tightened consumer spending, and growing competition caused prescription counts to fall, the company didn’t bump up ad spending. Instead, it reinvented its approach to customer care.
- Bringing pharmacists out from behind the counter to provide more clinical and counseling services
- Building an online “Find a Pharmacist” tool to match customer needs with pharmacist expertise, clinical backgrounds and native languages
- Creating a Pill Reminder mobile app with prescription refill and transfer abilities
- Building API middleware tools that let third-party developers create new ways to let patients order refills at its 8000+ pharmacies
And when medical device leader Medtronic wanted to expand its already successful business throughout Western Europe and beyond? It didn’t double-down on cutting-edge devices. It reinvented its business model instead, expanding its offerings to include services, and establishing new business units that partnered to put owned-and-operated labs inside hospitals.
Not only has Medtronic increased its business and provided partners with significant improvements in customer service and cost-savings. Having earned their trust, it’s also built a sizable business around ancillary services such as supply chain management and performance benchmarking.
Clearly, a mix of agility, flexibility, and resourcefulness are becoming increasingly important to business success today.
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