How do you transform a small problem into a big opportunity?
An algorithm is a list of rules to follow in order to solve a problem and is commonly used for data processing, calculation and other related computer and mathematical operations. A simple google search for the “LinkedIn Algorithm” produces a myriad of recommendations on how to take advantage of the algorithm to increase the visibility of your profile and posts. While some seek more likes, views and comments most people I interact with on LinkedIn want to increase their engagement with their network developing deeper relationships.
When designing software or modifying an algorithm it is important to contemplate the complexities of humans navigating different behaviours while understanding the range of customer needs. According to IDC, the global information technology industry will reach the US $5 trillion in 20019 with the United States representing the largest tech market worth approximately US $1.6 trillion. We live in a socially and digitally connected world with many opportunities for technology companies of all sizes. How can small to medium businesses compete against large corporations?
Adopt an algorithm mantra- solve problems!
The growth of the textile and cotton industry in the 18th and 19th Centuries demanded an ever-increasing workforce. Basile Bouchon was the son of an organ maker and worked as a textile worker at a silk centre in Lyon. In 1725 Bouchon invented a loom that was controlled by perforated tape and partially automating the task of setting up the machine in which an operator lifted warp threads using cords. This is considered the first industrial application of a semi-automated machine. In 1728, Bouchon’s assistance Jean-Baptiste Falcon replaced the perforated paper with a chain of punched paper cards which expanding the number of cords that could be handled by arranging the holes in rows and using rectangular cards that were joined together in an endless loop. Punched cards solved the problem of providing storage in the early computers. They were also known as IBM cards and contained several punched or perforated holes representing data allowing companies to store and access information by entering the card into a computer.
The weight loss industry is worth over US $70 billion in the United States with the commercial chains offering one-size fits all programs and an endless amount of companies providing nutritional advice. Viome helps solve the problems of understanding which diet is best for your health by analysing the bacteria and chemicals in the gut providing a tailored diet for its clients. Customers receive test results and dietary advice through a mobile app.
Become genuinely interested in solving problems
In the early days of computers, scientists sat for countless hours working through codes that were incomprehensible to anyone but themselves. In the early days of computing there were no programming languages to follow or formalised approaches to developing software. The primary objective was to produce an efficient program that could be squeezed into a small amount of storage as the cost of computer power was expensive however it did not take long until customers demanded and expected more from the computer. Customer relationship management (CRM) commenced in the 1970s with client satisfaction evaluated through surveys or front-line staff asking for feedback with data stored on standalone mainframe systems. CRM applications were developed to maximise leads’ potential and later morphed into helping businesses solve problems offering customer service and distribution capabilities.
It is in our nature to want to be appreciated and valued. Successful companies and salespeople make their customers feel important by showing a genuine interest in their problems, understanding how they can help before offering solutions. Our name provides us with an identity but for many people lack identification are denied access to basic services such as health and education. Simprints has developed a biometric solution which identifies people based on their fingerprints and the company hopes to have a massive impact on poverty reduction.
Negotiate to solve problems – Win/Win
The word negotiation comes from two Latin terms, negare otium which literally means “deny leisure”. In French and Spanish “deny leisure” becomes “business”. When negotiating with powerful suppliers or companies there are different strategies to choose from and it is generally better to pick the least-risky option that is feasible for your organisation. In early human history disputes often occurred within families and communities which were entirely reliant on each other to survive making it critically important to consider the interests of the whole group to solve problems. As I write this article the UK is facing one of its biggest crises since the Second World War – Brexit! People have no idea what lies ahead, and all parties involved in the negotiation have failed. The best negotiations rely on the parties establishing trust and wanting to achieve a mutual outcome however with so much disagreement in the UK and no consensus on what a good deal looks like Brexit represents a significant problem that urgently needs to be solved.
The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion in 2050 with the UN estimating food production will need to increase by 70%. This will require sustainable solutions to conventional agriculture that does not result in further deforestation, spreading deserts and toxifying soil and water. AeroFarms builds indoor farms that produce food locally using a technology called “aeroponics” where plants grow in air canals sprayed with water mist. This provides the roots with the necessary water to grow while reducing water consumption and avoiding the use of toxic chemicals to fight pests.
Customers want to receive good service from their suppliers while expecting them to understand their goals and challenges. Many major companies are focused on the business of selling, developing sales funnels and pipelines customers want their problems solved. Small to medium enterprises are nimbler and more flexible with the ability to tailor products and services to support customers creating long term relationships. A fired-up sales team from a large tech company cannot deliver value in the same way as SMEs wanting to help customers solve a problem!