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Then and now

Do you watch the PBS channels? Out of the 500 or so channels I have available to me I probably spend the most of my TV time on PBS; and the hockey channel during the playoffs. Recent PBS programs on Masterpiece Theatre are programs covering the late 1800’s or early 20th Century and I paid special attention to all the players in the production and especially how they were employed. I mention this because my reading material recently has me spending a lot of time on industry disruption being caused by new digital and electronic features that deliver a product or service with faster delivery times and less cost. Over and over again young entrepreneurs come up with a new approach or system to make a process more efficient and in most cases better than what is currently on the table. Even manufacturing is being attacked by this revolutionary process, using 3D printing to manufacturer product. Hard to believe, but true, with 3D printing currently available for not a lot of cost. The point here is when I watch the movies taking place in the 18th and 19th centuries there were a lot of people doing work and getting paid for it, no matter how modest the compensation was. If you needed a job there was probably one out there for you. Not anymore.

For example, I have been watching Mr. Selfridge on PBS. Selfridge is a retail store in England which I say is similar to Macy’s in the US.  As part of the story they demonstrated various operations of the store and it was very interesting how many people were involved in the process. Go into any retail store today and I bet more than 50% of the employees that appeared in Selfridge are not there today, maybe even more.

When you think about it, this increase in efficiency has and is taking place in every business, including yours. In fact, when you sell your lift trucks and warehouse systems part of your proposal deals with the increased efficiency and reduced manpower required after they buy your product or service. So, I guess we can say your company is an integral part of this efficiency movement and will continue to be so.

I don’t believe there is any doubt that efficiency improvements are here to stay. As one friend says….you need to AUTOMATE TO DOMINATE  and I believe him, especially after reading all this material about disruption, new apps for just about any industry and requests from customer employees (the younger ones) for web access for information about their relationship with your company. Another example would be a magazine I received that contained about 30 pages of apps for contractors. It was absolutely amazing.

Last month we kind of addressed this issue at the 5000 ft. level when we discussed navigating your business to meet both the business world we are in today and also the one we will be in tomorrow. It is a scary thought because I am not sure what the next business or economic revolution will require from your industry, over what timeframe, at what cost and whether you are prepared to plan and execute the changes required. What do you think? What will your industry look like 15 years from now…..10 years from now?

One thing is for certain. It will not look the same, operate the same, nor have the same number of employees required to complete the required work. It would appear only value added providers will be employed with most other required services outsourced. Think not….then think again. Right now the thought is there are not enough jobs available for people that want them and consequently people will start finding ways to make a living by providing services and products for less cost than you are currently spending, and because you want to remain competitive in your market you will use these more efficient services so that you can better market your products and services.

I suggest you get a subscription to Inc. Magazine if you want to scare yourself on a monthly basis. I read that publication cover to cover every month and judge how informative it is by how many times I utter “I’ll be damned” after reading a story how a kid in high school invented a new app that will change some part of a major industry.

It is not hard to think how what you find in Inc. will eventually become part of your industry or company, because it will sooner than you think.

Garry Bartecki is a CPA MBA with GB Financial Services LLC. E-mail to contact Garry.