The UK Business Awards in 2016 allowed us to see some incredible initiatives and ideas from a wide range of sectors and industries. Business from all over the UK participated and won their awards for innovation in many different business areas.
It could be said that the level of excellence seen at last year’s awards was quite uniform, even if the initiatives implemented varied drastically. This begs the question, what do the winners have in common and how are their business ideas similar, since they have all done something right?
Surely such a question can only bring about generalised answers since a lot of the internal workings of companies rely on multiple relative factors which give rise to new and applicable ideas which work there but not somewhere else.
However, this may not be the case. Sure, a lot of the initiatives seen this year have targeted particular areas of improvement that were unique to the businesses in question, but let’s talk about the underlying tone of those changes and see how perhaps, they are quite common and quite useful for anyone looking to improve their business further.
Firstly, the most common traits, common amongst UKBA winners, are quite understandable in that they present beneficial talents to the organisation as a whole.
These include either managerial positions filled by competent individuals with a lot of experience and/or initiative, a sound company structure allowing for expansion and improvement, a finger on the pulse of the market, and all other well-known traits which all business owners understand as important.
So if we eliminate those traits, traits which could be described as overall competence, and not waste our time analysing these well-established norms into the ground, what can we see that’s specific to new, modern ideas which are being implemented today?
Well we can see competence in the ability to deliver newly established customer expectations as well the ability to improve business practices in a structured and coherent manner. To understand this further, we should talk about some of the winners and their initiatives which help prove this point.
Take for example Aldi Stores, a well-known global retailer who took the award for Business Innovation, as well as Hospitality, Restaurants and Retail in 2016. Their most notable development has to be the development of aldi.co.uk, an online e-commerce platform providing customers with their famousSpecialbuys offers as well as a wide variety of wines.
Now what makes these developments so fascinating? The introduction of an online store isn’t something revolutionary, right? Well surely then all big retailers should have one, but they don’t.
Aldi hasn’t only shown great courage and competency in general, their ability to outcompete rivals is something worth praising since such a development for a business of this size, even if it was UK-only, can be a daunting task.
Speaking of large businesses, Barclays Bank was also a winner of multiple categories in last year’s Awards. Their most noticeable development has to be the introduction of voice-authenticated phone banking, which saw mass praise by all of the Bank’s clients using the service.
Knowing that customer expectations are starting to rise, in order to stay competitive and provide an offer that’s simply hard to refuse, Barclays was able to introduce a system that directly impacts customer journeys by reducing customer effort in regards to phone banking.
Increasing customer expectations and the need to stay competitive is more important than ever before and when we look at how this can be achieved, the increasing number of customer channels such as social media and online interaction is making this difficult for traditional businesses.
Traditional business improvements are not as effective anymore and many are looking for ways to innovate and stay competitive online. For some, this is a curse but for others, a blessing.
Take for example ZeroLight, a company that developed amazing new software which revolutionised traditional marketing efforts of the automotive industry.
As last year’s winner in the Disruptive Business Model through Technology, ZeroLight came in and rocked the automotive industry with their new software that renders cars in 3D and supports the upload via Cloud, giving customers the ability to view models online without the need to visit a dealership to get information.
Right off the bat, such technology can be seen as a serious game-changer for any automotive manufacturer that implements it as it gives them the online influence that’s unmatched by rivals. Furthermore, as the software is fully interactive, giving users the ability to view the car from all angles and modify it to their desires, a lot more information can be provided before the customer effort leading to a dealership visit.
These are just some of the initiatives from UKBA 2016, with all of them deserving equal praise. We have not only seen innovation and great ideas but also, adaptability.
If there is anything besides delivering on customer expectations and improving business practices in a structured manner that is commonplace amongst UKBA winners, it has to be their ability to adapt.
The expression, ‘getting with the times’ can’t get any more relevant than in the business world. The ability to think about what’s sought after and what is the step forward that makes the most sense, is possibly the only concrete thing that ensures success in business.
Barclays hasn’t developed their authenticated phone banking software out of curiosity or boredom, instead it took great steps to understand what the main customer concerns were and what it could do to overcome them step by step.
Aldi didn’t develop their online platform for the fun of it either, they instead saw a market gap and a great response from their customers, which had to previously include the ability to hear and respond to customer feedback.
All these processes tie in with one another and in that sense, the underlying currents behind all of the changes we’ve seen last year have to include customer-focused attitudes, a close eye on market gaps and opportunities, and constant self-criticism fueling the will to improve.
Without these traits, none of these initiatives would have been possible. For UKBA winners, practices generally understood as ‘good’ or ‘important’, such as competent management and strategy, are set by default.
Their ambitions lie in something deeper, something that’s customer-oriented and something that can be achieved through the idea that it’s all up for the taking.