Picture this. Cairns. 134 or so people sitting in a conference room. The Australasian Rotational Moulders Association. There's an almost equal mix of suppliers to the industry as the business owners.
Rotational Moulding is a manufacturing process of spinning plastic that requires heavy investment in land (for the plant and storage); equipment which can run into the millions; heavy energy use - heating the moulds to melt the plastic then cooling it. Heavy transportation costs to get the goods to market or the distributors.
So there we were, watching a video presentation by an American firm on a new solar powered rotational process. It uses thousands of little mirrors on a computer operated dish that focuses the energy into a direct beam and turns with the sun to generate the heat required to melt the plastic. When it's time to cool the mould, the mirrors are simply turned.
Because the sun is harnessed and the rotating mirrors are small in size, one can completely set up a mobile plant in the correct sunny location requiring little more than a truck to ship in a couple of containers. And a generator I imagine to power the computers to run the mirrors and the rotating mould.
Aside from the obvious questions - such as what happens when it rains or if that 'sun don't shine'; I thought to myself, these machinery suppliers sitting in this room must be having a heart attack. If this new technological process is successful and catches on, it could erode a significant part of their business. There would be some moulders in the room thinking how they could get to remote clients, save on carbon tax and liquidate some of their infrastructure assets.
Lucky me, both my daughters work for the Hoyts chain (ask me about any movies before you go - I'll have seen it). Samantha is currently in training to be a Manager along with one other. He's the ex-projectionist. His job was eliminated. Why? Technology. They've gone digital at the Berkeley in Mission Bay.
Last week I conducted a Conquer Your Email Overload workshop for what I must say was the most technologically erudite group I've had the pleasure to work with. It was members of the Waikato Principals Association. These were principals from grammar and intermediate schools.
The audience of more than 80 were almost universally triple screening. The front screen I was projecting onto; their tablets (some with laptops) and smartphones. This group knows more than any of the business people that I have met about Google Drive. About working with their 'clients' i.e. students, parents, the Ministry in the Cloud. About clever apps for their phones (like one that beats out the rhythm needed for CPR).
I asked before the presentation if they wouldn't mind shutting off their 'screens' so they could focus on the presentation. There was a universal 'no'. They were all so busy they needed to multitask - as well as do their note taking by computer.
The point of mentioning these three scenarios is a huge heads up. So many of the business people I meet are not cognisant of how technology is so swiftly changing around them. Creating obsolescence. Volatility. Change. I suggest to immediately start researching what is going on in your industry as well as with technology. It's time to re-examine every business process you have and see if there is room for change/advancement. I believe you cannot be complacent at all. Your business. Your job depends on it.
P.S. If you'd like to know more about handling change, waste and volatility have a look here.