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THE NECESSITY OF REINVENTION
In an age of digital disruption—with ever-accelerating product life cycles and tech- savvy businesses eager to seize the day—nothing is sacred in business for very long. That’s why top performers are always looking for ways to reinvent themselves.
Wen Tong, head of wireless technology research and innovation at Huawei—the world’s largest telecommunications manufacturer—reflects the reinventive spirit of the times when he says in this issue of Insigniam Quarterly that change is happening so quickly that companies can no longer plan for a predictable future.
“We have no way of knowing what the market will look like in 20 years and no way of knowing what the big revenue generators will be,” he says. “What we do know
is if we can actually imagine and build the foundational technology for the next era, then that will be what sustains the future.” Huawei, which rapidly evolved from a one-room operation in provincial China to become one of the world’s great corporate innovators, is just one example in this issue of companies reinventing themselves.
Our cover story features Julia Brown, Carnival Corp.’s first-ever chief procurement officer, whose task is to reinvent the procurement process at Carnival, the world’s largest cruise ship operator. With the potential to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in savings, procurement at Carnival has been elevated to a strategic function. Brown is an integral part of the executive team.
From France, we have the story of how Danone Eaux—the domestic sales and marketing arm for Danone’s five water brands—reinvented the relationship between management and its unions to transform the atmosphere at its plant outside Paris.
Insigniam Founding Partner Nathan Owen Rosenberg Sr. looks at one particular trend in business model reinvention: companies eliminating the distance between themselves and their customers. Any organization primarily focused on its distributors rather than end users better think again, he writes: “The time has come for executives in the C-suite to reclaim their companies and serve their true customers, not the middlemen.”
One of the greatest reinvention stories is Western Union, once synonymous with the telegram business. Rather than fade away, the company reinvented itself as the world’s leader in money transfer. Jack M. Greenberg, Western Union’s chairman, says nothing is certain in a time of rapid-fire technological change, although there’s one thing you can count on: a different set of competitors five or 10 years from now.
Greenberg is right.
Every organization must be prepared to reinvent itself. Are you?