With signs of business activity beginning to pick up a bit, it seems like a good time to return to a question--actually, a series of questions--that is a central theme of not only this column but also all of InformationWeek. And that is, what business are you in today? A number of macro-level forces are exerting considerable pressures and stresses on businesses these days as they attempt to adjust to the new reality of pursuing growth with fewer employees, more-demanding customers, heightened levels of compliance and regulatory issues, greatly intensified foreign competition, elevated security concerns in the physical and cyber worlds, and the lingering specter of a false recovery.
In such a complex environment, it can be more than a little challenging to be able to declare clearly and simply what business you're in. But I would again suggest that that's only the first step, and that three more follow-up questions are imperative: In 12 months, what business will your customers want you to be in? And in 24 months, what business will your customers DEMAND you be in? And finally, is your company nimble and agile enough to move at a pace that will let you change to meet the evolving requirements of those customers?
Hoffman also described the massive upheaval in how consumers now interact with not only Hyundai but also its dealers. The new reality is that more than 80% of Hyundai customers visit the company's Web site before visiting a dealer. In many cases, Hoffman said, this is transforming the role of the dealer from walk-in showroom and take-it-or-leave-it ulcer-giver to a fulfillment center that sets up appointments for customers who have already configured and selected the model, features, options, color, and even financing of their choice. What business are the car companies in today? Or in 12 or 24 months? And what about their dealers? Or the insurance and financing companies that have interacted with those dealers in exactly the same way for the past 60 years?
How about you--what business will you be in 12 months from now?
Editor in Chief