At a recent meeting of The Presidents Forum, the members had a broad discussion on business transformation, and the need to understand factors that drive competitive advantage, especially among small businesses. Bill Blum, Alpine Business Systems, talked about two industries that will undergo substantial shifts: automotive and lawn care. These shifts, driven by customer preferences will change the way we use these products and services. For example, in the lawn care business, Scotts is creating grass seed that requires little water and fertilizer and only needs to be cut every six weeks. That means we only need 1/6 the number of landscape contractors we have now, with lawn equipment sales also suffering. Likewise, in the automotive sector, electric vehicles, self-driving cars and connectivity will change our thinking about cars to a shared-mobility concept. If ride sharing catches on in a big way, service stations and auto-parts stores, among others, will be negatively affected. However, other new industries though will spring up. While the members discussed use of analytic models, most felt the most effective approach begins first, with identifying the business opportunity and second, determining how models can improve outcomes. This was a great conversation in a rapidly changing world.
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