Thinking lean to manage disruption
by Rita Nguyen
Another opinion piece. This time for the Frontier magazine digital insert.
Myanmar’s economy is dominated by large, legacy businesses with inefficient processes and embedded cultural and organisational challenges.
Companies such as these are often more concerned with protecting what they already have – their brand, reputation or market share. This can result in a lack of innovation and incentives to experiment with new practices.
Over time this legacy thinking creates a range of problems, from high operating costs to lack of responsiveness to customer needs. One only needs to look at the global retail sector for an example: the failure of bricks and mortar retailers like Blockbuster in the face of new online competitors such as Netflix.
Myanmar is not always an easy place to do business, but increasingly the barriers to entry or expansion are being lowered. As this continues, more agile competitors capable of meeting the needs of the marketplace will be able to establish themselves quickly.
This is creating a perfect storm for disruption – the overturning of long-standing business practices and market models. But by embracing disruption, companies can maximise their potential to benefit from a rising consumer class and increasingly tech-savvy customers.
Disruption and innovation are too often considered the realm of technology companies. Uber and its almost 200,000 drivers have disrupted the taxi industry globally, while AirBnB and its 2 million listings have wreaked havoc on the hotel sector.
But disruption isn’t just for tech startups. Starbucks, the global coffee chain founded in 1971, launched a mobile app in 2009 that combines customer loyalty with a digital wallet. Today the My Starbucks Rewards app has 12 million users and accounts for an unprecedented 24 percent of the company’s transactions in the US and 16 percent of its global sales.
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