What’s the top imperative at your company? If it’s not a transformation to make the company more customer-focused, you’re making a mistake. Technology and economic forces have changed the world so much that an obsession with winning, serving and retaining customers is the only possible response.

We’re in an era of persistent economic imbalances defined by erratic economic growth, deflationary fears, an over-supply of labor, and surplus capital hunting returns in a sea of record-low interest rates. This abundance of capital and labor means the path from good idea to customer-ready product has never been easier, and seamless access to all of the off-the-shelf components needed for a startup fuels the rise of “weightless companies” which further intensify competition.

Chastened by a weak economy, presented with copious options, and empowered with technology, consumers have more market-muscle than ever before. The information advantage tips to consumers with ratings and review sites. They claim pricing power by showrooming. And the only location that matters is the mobile phone in their hand from which they can buy anything from anyone and have it delivered anywhere.

This customer-driven change is remaking every industry. Cable and satellite operators lost almost 400,000 video subscribers in 2013 and 2014 as customers dropped them for the likes of Netflix. Lending Club, an alternative to commercial banks, has facilitated more than $6 billion in peer-to-peer loans. Now that most B2B buyers would rather buy from a website than a salesperson, we estimate that one million B2B sales jobs will disappear in the coming years.


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