Is the digital or the mobile age focused on doing it a better way? Technology has improved things in so many ways, but in so many ways it has made our lives more difficult. Regardless, technology is changing so rapidly and is doing such amazing things that we all need to get on the wagon or get left behind.
Michael Porter, the leading authority in strategic planning, states the companies that become best-in-class at fulfilling a particular market niche are the companies that achieve the highest ROI. In Joan Magretta’s book, “Understanding Michael Porter”, she points out how companies like IKEA, Nucor, Walmart and even McDonald’s found a niche, leveraged that niche and became the unrivaled leader serving that niche.
As companies enter into the technology race, one of their biggest challenges is staying true to why their customers buy from them. Technology can be very cool, however there is a cost to all the features. If all of the cool additional features you are adding to your products or services aren’t the reason your customer buys from you, then you are just wasting money. Ultimately you could be losing market share because you are no longer competitive in the areas most important to your customers. Technology can also be overwhelming to us average users. Sure, we may think we want to experience all of the cool stuff that is available but if it is more difficult or clutters up the original value of using it, then we put it aside altogether. The beauty of many of the Apple products from the iPod to the iPad is the initial ease-of-use and clear simplicity to consume exactly what the user wants.
I speak to this because at my company, Red Book Solutions, we are on the cusp of a major, innovative shift in how our flagship product can be consumed. We are well down the road in developing our mobile/digital application of The Manager’s Red Book. We purposely delayed this next step because technology just wasn’t in a position to deliver a viable product that could offer the services we believe were core to why people bought from us—until now. We believe our core value proposition is delivering a tool that helps managers get organized and fully prepared for their day so they can achieve higher levels of profitability in their business or location. The key to why corporations, franchisors, franchisees, location managers and owners buy is that the tools are all about them focusing on their way of doing business. Our 100,000 clients want full customization that is kept current and fresh and is delivered at a price that does not dent their wallets.
Moreover, our product couldn’t be tied down to a clunky machine, it had to be on the move with our managers like it is today. We needed to wait until technology truly became mobile without interruption. We believe a mobile/digital application must not only deliver these core areas but should be robust enough to evolve to continuously make it better. The Manager’s Red Book has always been a plug-and-play solution. Our mobile/digital solution will be plug-and-play as well. We believe this is critical because most multi-unit location operators do not have the bandwidth to add another extensive training session to their managers’ already overloaded plates. They need help and results now. We are excited that technology is going to allow us to build the right tool that is even greater at making good managers better.
So technology is pushing us this direction. What direction is it pushing you? Porter might suggest that you determine why your customers buy from you and make sure the new ideas you implement are consistent with making this experience best-in-class in your clients’ eyes, not just yours. Don’t spend your time chasing the shiny new gadget or toy that your customers don’t really want. As Cam Lanier, the CEO of Instawares Holding Company once said to me, “Don’t make dog food the dogs won’t eat!”
By Greg Thiesen, President and CEO, Red Book Solutions and B2A – Over 30 years of experience in various areas – President and CEO of Red Book Solutions and B2A, Turnaround Specialist with Doering and Eastwood, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer for a major division of Conagra, Inc. and Senior Manager and a Certified Public Accountant with Ernst and Young.
Learn more about the upcoming digital solution and all the changes happening at Red Book in the New Year in this new press release.