The origin of the term VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – can be traced back to the end of the Cold War and was coined by the US Army War College to describe the conditions that resulted from the event. In the present day, with economic downturns, collapsing economies and recessions alternating with the telecommunications boom, technology innovations and the Internet prompting sweeping lifestyle changes, perhaps the term assumes special significance. I also believe it is sometimes used loosely, but one sector for which the description is a perfect fit, is the e-commerce sector. The Internet has changed forever the way lives are being lived, and more changes are happening every day and every minute. There is no one size that fits all in this dynamic environment as new solutions are coming up for age-old problems, trying to make the ecosystem more transparent, more efficient – whether in a business or in a consumer environment.
I have been fortunate to have been associated with this industry for the last 15 years, and I would like to recount here how we, belonging to the B2B ecommerce sector, devised our strategy to keep up with this VUCA environment.
The B2B e-commerce sector is dynamic and as a result its development is unpredictable. It is still at a nascent stage and is based on changing technology as well as changing regulations. The nature of this industry has led mjunction to embrace an “Adaptive Strategy”, which aims to create a continuous temporary advantage vis-à-vis a sustainable competitive advantage. While the overall direction remains at creating platforms and marketplaces using technology, the strategy is not predetermined and evolves through a process of continuous process of experimentation, evaluation and scaling up. This is helping us to create opportunities for every business to evolve and grow.
Even though the start-up team came from the steel industry and we launched our first few services for the steel industry, the approach that we used was “adaptive.” This meant that we constantly tested our hypotheses and tweaked and changed our solutions based on customer feedback. Starting small, keeping costs variable, setting quantitative success parameters, tweaking and changing and when the experiment finally succeeded, quickly scaling the solution.
As of today, we adapt on a continuous basis to our customer requirements. We are engaging with industry, and with our customers regularly, and bringing digital technology and customer problems together on an ongoing basis. I am sure we will run this strategy for quite some years now, till we think of something else more superior or more suitable. We are very comfortable in being flexible, and the agility that is required to survive today is something that we recognise very clearly.
With hardly any chances of a let-up in the VUCA environment in the near future, I believe our industry would also be better off being agile, and continually updating its business processes by closely analysing and interpreting customer needs and market signals. It needs to identify and innovatively remove constraints that impede business growth and then commission relevant projects for addressing their needs.
Last but not the least; the industry should never shy of away from taking risks and experimenting. In this environment of ever changing technology and new and innovative ways of solving problems, only sky is the limit for this sector.
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Founder CEO and Managing Director mjunction services limited
India’s largest B2B ecommerce company
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