This weekend I watched the documentary about Amy Winehouse. A unique talent that got drowned in her own success. A pity that the world only had such a short period to enjoy her talent. The documentary showed the journey she made with her passion for music from unknown to respected on a global scale. Outrageous maybe is a better word to describe her popularity. The way she was chased by the English media was complete madness. I can imagine that to a certain extend it drives you crazy, literally. ‘That is the price you have to pay’ people often say. But the question is whether Amy was really looking for this. She loved music and just wanted to write songs and practice her passion. In business we would cal this exponential growth.
In all its greatness the most impressive part of the documentary for me was the period when she wrote a couple of songs for her album ‘Back to Black’. These were for her the most darkest days of her life so far where many things came together. The songs she wrote in only a couple of hours formed the essence and foundation for the rest of the album. Without knowing it or even striving for it she was writing history. At that moment she was on the verge for her break through. These 3 hours would change her life completely and afterwards could be considered as her tippingpoint. And that is what really intrigues me. At that moment she was on the verge for her break through. These 3 hours would change her life completely and afterwards could be considered as her tippingpoint.That apparently by coincidence something huge is happening in such a short timeframe where it all comes together. No one predicted, it just happened. There is a name for that: serendipity. A phenomenon that already intrigues me for years. Finding things without searching for it. I believe that you are able to facilitate such a process. I think in todays world technologies allow us to increase the number of moments of impact. I even believe that the next wave of extremely succesfull companies are those who help us finding these moments of truth.
What really matters in business today
The last 9 months within Exact are more exciting than ever. At least for me personally being on board for 4 years now. The acquisition by Apax at the beginning of this year combined with our ambition to become a top 3 player in the cloud business software arena brings in a new type of dynamic. Especially when we all as employers feel that we can make it happen. Now is the time, now the circumstances are there to accelerate. But having the ambition is something completely different than getting there. So management is looking into ways how to support this transformation of the company. Who doesn’t want to be the next Uber or Airbnb showing exponential growth? Well, we are one of those companies. We are chasing for exponentional growth. The definition of exponential growth? If you look up in Wikipedia still to me it could be misinterpreted. Many people think it is about increasing the growth % year over year. But that is not the case. Even growth % can decrease but still you are achieving exponential growth. From a marketing perspective we did some exercises how to support. There we found out based on the fictional model below that revenu growith can decrease while still achieving exponential growth.
Is it possible to facilitate the process of becoming such an exponential organization? Yes, I think that is possible.
Two months ago the book ‘Exponential Organizations’ was handed out by our CEO to all the leaders within Exact. An inspiring book that describes the theoretical principles of exponential organizations. Highly recommended with lots of examples to illustrate the theory and line of thinking. Off course the main question is: what does it take to become an exponential organization? What is it what a business should aim for, should develop or deliver in order to achieve exponential growth. Is it about technology or is it about people with great ideas? Nobody has the answer. Only thing we can do is analyse the succeses we have seen so far that impressed us. Is it possible to facilitate the process of becoming such an organization? Yes, I think that is possible. In fact the writers and publisher of the book are already doing. In the book they talk about the ‘Massive Transformative Purpose‘, the MTP. What is your bigger goal, what is your dot on the horizon. We, me are being challenged by our CEO. As Exact what is the kind of role we want to play towards our current and future audience of smaller companies? What is it what we want to offer them and what is our bigger purpose why we do it like the way we do? What is it what we truly believe in?
In the last couple of months we have made some major steps I think in getting our arms around it. It requires an open mind and the ability to look at yourself and ask yourself some tough questions. What is it that really matters to our audience of smaller companies, how can we truly help them fullfilling their ambitions. Who will be our competitors in 5 or 10 years from now. Are these still Intuit, Sage or Xero or should we strongly look into banking firms, insurance companies or even Google, LinkedIn and Facebook?. Is that by delivering cloud business software or is that something else? Who will be our competitors in 5 or 10 years from now. Are these still Intuit, Sage or Xero or should we strongly look into banking firms, insurance companies or even Google, LinkedIn and Facebook? 10 years ago when we started with transforming our delivery model for business software to a subscription based service, we made our first steps into becoming exponential. But that is not enough, today we have to go beyond that. I think the main question is whether we dare to make a step forward litteraly. Do we want to stay at the back seat with cloud business software that creates an infrastructure to build a business or do we want to take place at the front seat inspiring and helping people to build their businesses?
The art of timing
I think now is the time to make that decision, so either stay in the back end or take a step forward. Offer technology as an enabler or dare to go one step further and help smaller business to find their moments of truth. So don’t just offer technology but embrace these technologies by ourselves in order to facilitate their journey to success, facilitate serendipitous encounters. Back in March Bill Gross, a well experienced founder of new businesses, during TED gave his view on what makes companies extremely succesful. Many things need to come together and timing is one of the most important ones. But how on earth can you influence timing? That might be one of the most difficult ones and maybe even impossible. Here things need to come together, unexpected, without being concious that something big is happening. Once someone told me, sometimes things are so big that you are not able to see them. Only that thought on itself gives me lots of energy and drive to strive for the ultimate. It is that moment where it all comes together like with Amy Winehouse at the beginning op this post.
What if we as Exact help smaller businesses find their moments of truth? Find that tippingpoint that makes them extremely succesful without being arrogant in saying that we will always succeed. But isn’t that a bridge too far for Exact? Doesn’t that stand pretty far away from the things that we are currently doing? Depends on how you apporach this. More conventional thinkers would say yes, the more disruptive thinkers would say no. Especially the last group of thinkers will talk about the essentials required to help our audiences. What is the data we have and accessibility of this data about who they are and what they do over a period of time. What can we derive from it and more importantly does that give us the ability to help smaller companies to do the right things. Until what extend do we have a great starting point to come up with something big (for them)? I believe we as Exact can facilitate, not only in the back end but also at the front end in such a way where the small business owner is still the true entrepreneur that makes things happen. But becoming extremely succesful isn’t that easy…
Salesforce.com remains technical infrastructure
Take as an example Salesforce.com. Today still one of the most successful cloud software companies. If you look at the things that they offer it is incredible knowing where they came from. It started with simple salesforce automation software but nowadays they offer a complete software infrastructure to run a big chunk for businesses on. Most recently I was looking into their community stuff. Impressive and the way Salesforce.com demonstrates how she is facilitating companies to embrace the latest big trends in the industry like social and analytics. If it would be that simple than we all just buy Salesforce.com software and we are ready to succeed.But is it that simple? Offering the toolbox for building such communities where employees, customers and even prospects are helping each other. If it would be that simple than we all just buy Salesforce.com software and we are ready to succeed. Well, knowing the pricing of their solutions you quickly come to realize their solutions are mainly for the bigger companies and corporates. Deepo pockets are required. And I think that works well for them. Bigger companies who got stuck and need to transform into something new. But what about the smaller companies, because even if they would be able to buy their software, does that guarantee succes or does it requires something more?
So what’s next chasing exponential growth?
This to me is the essence. We are on the verge of something new for Exact. We have to make our mind up now, do we stay on the infrastructure side of software or are we taking one step further. Still staying at the back end is quite exciting with technologies like bitcoin and blockchain gaining traction once it is about financial transactions. But isn’t that an essential requirement to stay in business anyway for companies like us. I truly believe we can be the growth engine for every smaller companies by helping them finding the right people, expertise and knowledge around them, on demand. I think we have a unique position compared with Google, Facebook and LinkedIn once you realize which data is required to do so. We need to further embrace data and algorithms to be utmost relevant in the right business context for being serendipitious. Because if timing is what matters as was explained by Bill Gross, how can you facilitate that things come together, on demand. I truly believe we can be the growth engine for every smaller companies by helping them finding the right people, expertise and knowledge around them.It has a lot to do with technology, ideas, the team, funding and the business model but overall it is about timing. Extremely intangible but something you need to find that you can not order like software. Success you can’t plan, it has to overcome you, just like Amy. But there is the beautiness of something we can all strive for. It can be you or me in the smallest thing we think of, today, tomorrow or next week. It is something you need to believe in that it can happen, or not. For me personally that is what it is about, the exciting journey of finding our moments of truth, our tipping points in a world, an economy that is changing extremely fast but in itself creates new opportunities every day.
In the next few weeks and months I am able to share the outcome with regards to the initiatives we started to achieve exponential growth. Also how we prepared ourselves within marketing to support this journey. Out journey will be more exciting than ever and the best thing is, we will take you also on that journey!