Is your business a chameleon, or is it set to go the way of the dinosaur? As the economic recovery continues and the competitive, dog-eat-dog nature of industry intensifies as a direct result, an increasing number of organisations are finding out the hard way that it’s only the fittest that survive. Indeed, it’s no coincidence that, in business as much as in nature, it’s those who are able to keep their heads above the water are those who are able to demonstrate the best survival instincts. The ability to evolve and remain flexible in an age of technological change and innovation is the key to this, and can often be the difference between business success and untimely extinction.


Of course, the importance of adapting to your surroundings to ensure continued prosperity is not a new concept. Chameleons are a great natural example of how evolution can play a critical role in ensuring longevity. In the same way that these reptiles have learnt to camouflage themselves against their surroundings as a defence mechanism, so organisations must be prepared to build in the flexibility they need to be able to adapt to what’s going on around them.


Put simply, today’s businesses are operating in a very different world to that of five or ten years ago. In the modern ‘information age’, data and the speed in which it is delivered, consumed and made available to users is an increasingly important commodity. Businesses that are structured around managing data effectively are those who are better able to engage, respond and interact with customers in order to give them a positive experience, which gives them the edge. This is, of course, much easier for newer companies who emerged kicking and screaming into the digital age. But what about more traditional, established companies who find it more difficult to adapt to this brave new world?


What these ‘dinosaur’ companies – so called, because they are often large, cumbersome, and very, very old – have learnt is that inaction is not an option. HMV and Woolworths are two recent examples of these ‘dinosaurs’ that were slow to fully embrace the digital age and which have teetered on the brink of extinction as a consequence. For this reason, it’s no coincidence that in the last 12 months, we’ve seen a raft of tech-savvy starts ups acquired by wealthier, established companies who are looking to stay at the forefront of data innovation. Of course, if you do not have the resources or time available to graft innovation to your business in this way, this approach is unlikely to be a credible option.


Instead, established organisations have found that they have to be less ‘dinosaur’ and more ‘chameleon’ by changing the way they think about data, and customising the services they offer accordingly. They now know that it’s not enough for them to differentiate themselves purely by the products and services they offer, and understand that in order to meet the demands of the modern customer, they need to change the way they think.


However, achieving this aim is not as easy as you might think. Any business that thinks it’s just a simple case of lifting up their existing infrastructure and placing it onto a new digital way of operating is going to struggle. Embracing the new, digitally-enabled world is about more than reaching out to traditional markets through a different channel. It’s more about changing the way your business operates and engages with customers, and having the structure in place that will allow you to deal with a surge in demand from new, global customers.


Above all, this means having the ability to be flexible. The key to this is putting data at the forefront of business operations, with speed and scalability the watchwords. Most importantly, these businesses have also discovered the importance of future proofing themselves against even greater demands on their data by investing in platforms that can cost-effectively increase the flexibility of their data. Isn’t it worth thinking about how effectively your business manages data, and whether it is helping you to adapt, or edging you closer to extinction?


Posted by David Maitland, EMEA General Manager, Couchbase

David Maitland is an EMEA General Manager at Couchbase. David is responsible for building the EMEA business from its inception, resulting in Couchbase gaining customers from some of the largest brands across the region.

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