Surviving the downturn and forging ahead

2009

The great economic disaster rumbles on. But the same publications that recount the shocks and setbacks of the crisis also record a mass of fresh evidence to suggest that corporations and individuals are surviving the downturn as the 21st century economy continues to thrive and grow in the astonishing environment of the Digital Revolution.

'The Next Net' is the nickname for a vast, universal system that will track people's purchases and movements to find out where they go and what they buy. The results could revolutionise marketing. The search for extra and new revenues from existing and new customers has long been essential to business success but primitive tools were used. The Next Net, highly advanced, promises to sell you 'intelligence'.

That means processing mountains of data to find out where individuals are most likely to buy and to be. 'Mobile data', says Business Week, 'could soon work its way into industries from marketing and finance to media'.

The start-up teams sweating over their algorithms will find that the leaders, above all Google, are already mining much currency from mapping markets. The search and advertising business which dominates Google's profits relies on its charting the influence and relevance of billions of web sites. This age is one of information, not subprime mortgages.

In another study, BW listed 25 companies rated by its readers as champions of customer service. Amazon head the top ten; then USAA insurance; two upmarket car firms, Jaguar and Lexus; the Ritz-Carlton hotel group; Publix Super Markets; online catalogue retailer Zappos.Com; electronic hardware expert Hewlett-Packard; stockbrokers T. Rowe Price; and Ace Hardware, retailer of electronic and home improvement kit.

The list is remarkable for the sheer range of the ten activities and the variety of the rich ways in which the companies seek to stimulate their sales and profit margins, downturn or no downturn.

But can this various vitality show the way forward? The full list features other firms operating close to the epicentre of the Credit Crunch: there's another broker, Charles Schwab (the great innovator in retail selling of investments); another insurance competitor (Amica); Amex in credit cards; and even Keybank of Cleveland, which prospers by gratifying the small business owners who are so justifiably miserable about their current treatment by the beleaguered banks of Britain.

The 25 all continuously endeavour to seek better ways of giving the customer more value for money and themselves better businesses, using progressive methods ahead of their rivals. You need to build a company that has superior business results that march in step with a notably intellectual management machine.

The thinking managers are surviving the downturn by 'provoking' their customers; adopting value-for-money strategies for recessionary times; making mobility matter. Thinking managers also cogitate over mistakes - both their own and those of non-thinkers.

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About The Author

Robert Heller
Robert Heller

Robert Heller, who died aged 80 in August 2012, was Britain's most renowned and best-selling author on business management. Author of more than 50 books, he was the founding editor of Management Today and the Global Future Forum. About his latest title, The Fusion Manager, Sir John Harvey-Jones wrote: "The future lies with the thinking manager, and the thinking manager must read this book".