Social researcher and author Michael McQueen was the keynote speaker at cloud-accounting company MYOB’s roadshow.
He launched into his presentation with a game he called “Bankruptcy Bingo” and discussed how some incumbent brands have been disrupted by tech changes in their industries.
It’s relevant because the sector accounting software company MYOB is operating in has been shaken up by tech changes and the evolution of cloud-based offerings and new players.
“The very factors that caused these businesses lose relevance is something none of us are immune to,” McQueen said. “Things change, not just incrementally, but dramatically…The goal posts get moved.”
MYOB has been madly adapting its accounting platform to offer a cloud-based solution and compete for market share with newer companies like Xero.
McQueen said there are three things companies can do to stay relevant in the face of disruption.
1. Re-calibrate – Companies need to continually check their alignment and make sure changes match the business goals and industry. Quoting Apple’s Steve Jobs, McQueen said: “If you’re not willing to cannibalise your own business someone else will do it for you.” He said the most important question for businesses to ask themselves is “What business are we really in?”
CEO Tim Reed said MYOB has had to change when and how the company charges its customers in order to operate in the changing industry.
“I’m often asked by financial analysts how our business is weathering the storm of not charging a licence fee upfront anymore. My answer: Just fine. yes, we forego about two years of profitability on each client but it enables us to form a much closer relationship with those clients over the long run,” he said.
2. Re-engineer – McQueen said: “We have things that we do every single day that may have served a purpose five years ago but we hold onto them like sacred cows.”
Reed said: “Almost every part of our business has been re-engineered.” MYOB now releases software updates on an ongoing basis, compared to the once a year update it used to do.
3. Re-position – Change the way you connect with your marketplace as it changes.
“We’re no longer a business that delivers software in a box and says goodbye,” Reed said. “We’re a business partner that’s there everyday.”
Closing out his presentation on dealing with change and tech disruption McQueen said: “I think there’s a whole lot we can learn from the world of sailing.”
“One of the most important skills in sailing is being able to sail into a headwind. It’s not always convenient, it’s not always something you want to do, it’s not easy, requires a bit of skill. But I think it’s a useful metaphor for something we’re all going to have to do over the next few years,” McQueen said.
“The only way to sail into a headwind is to tack, to go with the wind, rather than against it.”
What he meant was while you can’t always determine the direction an industry is going you can manoeuvre a company around it by adjusting course.
Reed said there’s “a lot of relevance” in what McQueen said to the MYOB business.