All (not) New Digital Business

All (not) New Digital Business
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Digital Business……My first customer engagement was a lead generated from an index card – not something I have used much since. The card with my parents phone number was pinned to the notice board in the local cattle market. I was advertising my Relief Milking Services to dairy farmers in the local area. From what I knew of the local community there would be farmers that needed someone to cover weekend, sickness, harvest and YFC nights and I had the skill.

While the last twenty five years have seen significant changes in the way we do business and the developments in technology provide us with a whole new digital world to do business in. Business has not changed, this is what we have been doing for thousands of years it comes down to the same things.

The Customer Perspective

The customer has a need to be fulfilled. Like that first farmer that called the phone number and we arranged my first “presales” meeting, they were milking the cows three times a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year, they needed some nights off. In the digital world this might be the food that we order from Tesco for delivery or the Uber to get us to the next meeting.

The Supplier Perspective

The supplier has a product or service that will fulfil the customer’s need, like the skill of milking cows that I had learned. In the same way Tesco provides our shopping, Uber our transport, DPD our package delivery or Netflix our Films. The supplier will provide the product or service in exchange for something of value. Even if the value exchange is a tweet of a downloaded whitepaper or bitcoin or PayPal, these still mirror transactions in the analogue economy.

The Marketplace

Further than this the local cattle market provided me with a targeted advertising location for my index card advert, in the same way that Google provides targeted advertising or Amazon or Alibaba as market places.

Trust must not be underestimated as part of the sales engagement. As a fifteen year old with responsibility for milking two hundred and fifty cows, where one mistake would contaminate thousands of litres of milk, the farmer needed to trust me.  In the Digital world of B2B and B2C, trust cannot be overlooked, how can the trust be developed between the buyer and the seller, platforms like Amazon, EBay and Gumtree have incorporated tools for developing an aura of digital trust, but do these go far enough?

Avoid Digital Reinvention

We get excited pulling the packaging from the canvas which shows a moment that is special to us, captured with the digital SLR, uploaded via the internet to the printing business, printed and shipped via a logistics business to our home. We can digitally enable much of this, but the outcome we desire is that canvas on the wall, that will remind and excite. These transitions are not just digital/physical, in my mind, one is so well encapsulated by the painting of Nipper titled “His Masters Voice”.

Digital is not an excuse to relearn what has worked for thousands of years, rather we should be building on the years of skills and experience to do it better. We can digitally enable business and the way we do business, we can trade digital commodities, but this does not change what conducting business is.

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Caleb Mohon


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