Preparing your business for the future — Part 2
In Part One of this piece, IMD President Dominique Turpin discussed the changing demographics of the world and the consequences it will have on the future. In today’s installment, Turpin discusses two more impending megatrends and how companies can sidestep potential mistakes and start preparing for what lies ahead.
Explosion in technology
If you think we have seen a stark increase in technology in our lives over the last few years with the omnipresence of smartphones and wearable heath trackers, you haven’t seen anything yet.
One example of how fast we have been speeding up is that the number of mobile web users is growing eight times faster today than the number of people getting on desktops in the mid-1990s. And this change will only continue to move quicker!
In the coming era, everything will be connected: from buildings to roads to satellites to your refrigerator. The internet of everything is on its way. Advances in 3-D printing will change the cost and efficiency of making a lot of products and even body parts or organs!
Someday, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were common for people to live to 120 years old due to how personalized medicine will become and how much of an impact neuroscience will have on our lives. Of course, if people live 120 years, this will only add to our socio-demographic challenges.
In addition, with the explosion of technology and the Internet of Things, digital disruption will continue to displace established industry incumbents at an alarming rate. Up to 40% of current businesses are vulnerable to digital disruption according to recent research by the IMD/Cisco Center for Digital Business Transformation.
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You have probably noticed by now that we are living in an increasingly V.U.C.A. (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world.
There is no end in sight and leaders are struggling to cope. Add to that the fact that all sectors are becoming more transparent, leaders are much more exposed today than they were 10 to 15 years ago. They are under pressure for quick results in a difficult environment with an unprecedented level of scrutiny for their every decision.
We need great leaders more than ever to overcome the challenges we face ahead. But it is getting harder and harder for leaders to navigate obstacles and to obtain the mandate and leeway they need to make their mark.
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What can we do?
In these tough times some of the biggest, and most common mistakes companies can make are to compete on price or to lower investments in education, research and development or innovation.
The most successful organizations will continue to invest in innovation in a broad sense and relentlessly collect business and customer insights. They will also focus on their “customers’ headaches”, not just their needs and wants, and work on making sure they come back. Ensuring that they have a great experience once is not enough anymore.
We all face tough times ahead and no one approach will work for every organization or in every industry. But if you follow these general principles you will be off to a good start.
The stakes are high; these megatrends are all but certain to come and have the potential to make or break your business.
How are you preparing for the megatrends of the future?
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.