Beveridge hosts ‘record’ webinar on surviving the future

Setting a record for the highest registration to a webinar to date for his company, Dirk Beveridge, founder of UnleashWD, recently hosted the webinar for members of the distribution industry. The webinar, which according to Beveridge was his most-attended so far, focused on how companies can compete for the future.

In the one-hour session, Beveridge highlighted disruptive trends in the industry, companies that have adjusted for the future, factors preventing companies from competing in the future, and processes to decode the future. The topic of the future is one that “hit a nerve” for Beveridge.

To kick it off, Beveridge highlighted the business model of Encyclopedia Britannica, a company that has been around for over 200 years. While they “killed off” their published book back in 2012, Encyclopedia Britannica’s President Jorge Cauz has helped the company become a major digital learning place in schools, still have a presence all over the world over the internet, and called the ending of their print encyclopedias a “non-event”.

Beveridge provided one more piece of information before listing off disruptive trends in the industry. It was a quote provided from a member of the distribution industry saying less than 10 percent of distributors are prepared for the future.  

“Competing for the future is harder than ever before,” Beveridge said.

The first of four segments pointed out eight disruptive trends in the industry Beveridge noticed from interviewing 100 distributors and 100 manufacturers from various trades for both his book “Innovate” and article “Reimaging the Distributor-Manufacturer relationship age of innovation.” 

The trends included: general shift of employees and customers, disruptive technology, changing customer requirements, intensified competition, alternative channels, commoditization of servicing existing markets, transfer power to customers and end users and compressed margins. 

The trends, which focused on the millennial generation, new technology in the industry, and increase in competition, were addressed and given real life examples in the next segment of successfully negotiation inflection points. 

Inflection points, according to Beveridge, are the same as turning points. 

“We must compete for the future by identifying these inflection points,” Beveridge said. 

Companies pointed out as successfully negotiating inflection points included Berlin, Grainger, and Cisco. 

Berlin, a packaging company on a “burning desire to compete and win”, shifted their business from being a premier distributor of rigid packaging to being a hybrid package supplier. This change has helped Berlin “evolve” and “revolutionize”, according to Beveridge.

Grainger Industrial Supply embraced digital distribution, ecommerce, and a business model much like Amazon. Now 41 percent of the company’s accounts are ecommerce, and has 5 million key words to help them standout in the digital era. 

Beveridge would go on to bring up a quote from Executive Chair and Former CEO John Chambers of Cisco, in his final example of a company able to go through a major transition to find success. 

“If we don’t disrupt ourselves, if we don’t have the courage to change, if we don’t change before the market forces us to we’ll get behind,” said John Chambers.

After giving these examples, and before listing off 10 factors preventing companies from successfully competing for the future, Beveridge highlighted inherent inertia, a lack of movement or activity when wanted or needed, as something every company must fight. 

The root causes for inherent inertia, and factors preventing companies from competing in the future include: not being close enough to customers, lack of imagination, complacency, belief change is needed, fear of the unknown, fear of financial loss, lack of resources, no incentive, tyranny or the urgent and no vision for the future. The vision of the future was not only the final root cause, but was the first thing to attack according to Beveridge, because “without vision there is no innovation.”

“What you want to become is much more important than what you are today,” Steve Riddle, chief sales office, Sprint and formerly of Blinds.com said. 

To help companies attack the future, Beveridge presented a four-step process to help decode the future: vision and culture, value proposition, business moves and transformative leadership. 

“Every distributor that wins the future… will be an innovative distributor,” Beveridge said. 

Beveridge even helped viewers peer into the future with four steps. Two of which, that are centered around what to do in the present, focused on the micro side of things and were customer centric: customer needs and customer outcomes. The other two, more for the future and focus on systemic shifts, were Market Dynamics and Mega trend. While the final two focused more on the future, Beveridge instructed listeners to focus on that side first.

Using the example of Ford Motor Company and their vision into the future, Beveridge highlighted Sheryl Connelly. Connelly, a Futurist for Ford, had five big things to be aware of: technology, economic, social, political and environmental. Connelly has also advised people to think about the future in a meaningful way, and to think about things you can’t influence or control. 

Drawing more examples from people in the industry, Beveridge heighted Kian Gohar, executive director of XPRIZE. Gohar had ways to navigate the future: composition, networks, artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing, nano technology, digital medicine and synthetic biology.

To help put the future into prospective and inspire listeners of the Webinar, Beveridge read off quotes from people such as Mark Cuban and Steve Jobs. One of the final quotes he used, though, was a quote of his own. 

“The future is here; we just need to decode it,” Beveridge said. 

Beveridge will be hosting the 5th annual UnleashWD Innovation Summitt in October. Eerly bird registration is available.

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