I am reading a book entitled Future Smart by James Canton where he talks about trends that he feels will transform the world and especially the world of business. Based on what he is saying we need to be prepared for a very different business model in the next five to ten years, a business model transformation that is already underway.
The empowered consumer
Canton’s premise is that because of technology, specifically mobile technology, consumers, including employees, are going to be in a much more powerful position to drive how a company does its business. We are already beginning to see this trend, a trend that will become a tidal wave. Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, but they are already a major force. When making decisions about where to shop, what to buy, and yes, where to work they look for companies with heart and purpose.
According to Canton these empowered consumers want companies to have a social plan. Making just a profit is not going to be acceptable. The company has to be doing good, and the formula for success in the future is “do good to do well.”
Companies are already starting to pick up on the trend. At SHRM National in Chicago we heard Blake Mycoskie, the Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, talk about the good his company is doing by donating shoes and that the model has worked so well that he has extended it to eyeglasses. The story resonated throughout the crowd. Everyone knows the story of Zappos where Tony Hsieh felt the company should have a purpose and a passion for customer service and treating employees well. As a result they grew and became part of Amazon. Starbucks makes it clear that they have a commitment to the environment and their coffee growers; a commitment to the communities they do business in; and a commitment to their “partners” to provide a great work environment. By the way they are doing pretty good in the profit department.
What will be expected
The empowered consumer, according to Canton, will have a set of expectations about business. These are:
- A concern about social issues and the environment
- A desire to make the world better by committed social action on the part of the company
- This commitment has to be more than lip-service
- The company must be fair and equitable about their people practices.
This last built point means there needs to be diversity, there need to be good wages, and there needs to be gender equality. There has to be heart that is obvious.
HR can lead the way
The HR department has a great opportunity in the next five to ten years in helping their management teams see the value and profit in having a workplace that is socially aware of the demands new consumers and employees will place on the business. Without leadership recognizing this trend eventually your business will be shunned, first by the talent pool and then by the consumer.
So are you ready to step up and be the architect of success at your company or the steward that is helping everyone into the lifeboat before the company sinks?
Photo credit: MS Clipart