Speed Is the New Business Currency: 4 Things You Need to Know

Keith Krach
April 28, 2016

This past January, prominent global leaders met at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to discuss the changes that will come with what some are calling “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.” It was during one of the event’s many panel discussions that executives from several tech giants expressed the idea that in an unpredictable, rapidly evolving future, speed will be the new currency of business.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve followed all the rules for successfully establishing a business. This digital age will see current business processes and priorities dethroned, and if you fail to value speed above all else, your company will fall behind for the following reasons:

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1. Speed means adaptability in the face of digital change.

A business that can’t stay current with the best developing technologies will pose no threat to rival firms. Today’s consumers are looking for the most advanced product at the best price, and businesses incapable of incorporating the latest technologies will struggle to position themselves as a worthy choice in a market full of modernized competitors.

This ability to quickly adapt to innovation is especially relevant to the development of your company’s IT team, because these employees drive the business’ technological capabilities. Therefore, if you want your firm to stay relevant in the coming years, you will need to have the right people in place to do the job.

Employees who lead your company’s IT team will need to be able to execute tasks as efficiently as possible. The vision and talent required for this kind of productivity will require you to invest in highly skilled workers who can get a job done in a short amount of time, rather than trying to cut costs with lower-paid workers who take twice as long to complete the same task.

Cutting costs is no longer a matter of issuing a job to the lowest bidder. Instead, it is a matter of hiring employees who can swiftly and accurately complete a challenging job in an industry that is constantly evolving.

2. Speed is the key to reaching your customers.

Digital technology has allowed customers to almost instantly place an order or contact a company for products and services from a mobile device. Today, the practice has become so prevalent that any firm incapable of offering a near-instant sale will lose a potential customer’s attention, and thus his or her business. Additionally, customers can now compare a business’ product specs, reviews, and pricing with those of its competitors at the click of a button.

This kind of transparency means that it is more important than ever for businesses to learn about what consumers want before other firms do. The speed with which your company can gather and implement consumer knowledge to refine products can mean the difference between having the edge over the competition and losing to them.

There are many ways to gather this knowledge to improve speed and gain customers. For example, you can obtain data by integrating sensors and survey tools into your products. Be sure to investigate any red flags that signal a need for change as quickly as possible.

3. Speed means more effective business models.

When a business recognizes the primacy of speed, it will generate a business model that is better equipped to handle the ever-evolving modern market. Companies that focus on agility can readily reassess, deconstruct, and rebuild their operational models to adapt more swiftly to bleeding-edge technologies and new consumer expectations.

Another benefit to focusing on speed is that you can quickly find and form smart partnerships with companies that have a product that complements your own. Partnerships between companies, especially in the technology sector, have been known to yield some of the most innovative advancements in recent memory. The faster that you can identify these business opportunities, the less likely your company is to lose this competitive advantage to another firm.

These new business models are also often characterized by an increased amount of interdepartmental communication. Development at this speed requires every department to be on the same page at all times, and this enhanced communication can lead to novel ideas that would not have materialized without the input of individuals from different teams.

4. Speed sets your brand apart.

Speed also has an impact on your company’s brand. The speed at which a company handles its business is in direct proportion to how worthy the company seems as a potential partner for other firms, and how simple the company would be to buy from as a consumer. Businesses that recognize this concept and strive to implement it into their operations will be seen by customers as serious contenders on the market.

Companies that respect the new desire for enhanced speed in business may not always be the largest firms, but they often earn the admiration of other businesses as well as customers. Adopting a business policy of speed can take a company from being the kind of firm that rivals want to work against to being the kind of business that the competition longs to emulate.

In short, using speed as your new business currency is a simple way to brand your company as an industry leader.

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.