English Speaking |This Time There Are No Rules

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This Time There Are No Rules

During the decade of the 90s, I experienced substantial personal change. My local job left behind, I moved to a global role and was soon traveling across the planet as if the miles did not exist. I was not the exception as India bounced onto the world map fueled by the technology boom, telecom transformation and the obvious opportunity of leveraging our abundant English speaking talent. For many of us, that period is best described as a ‘hurricane of happy change’.

But as we look around today, that time is almost like a sail in the pond. The earth seems to be spinning at a pace that is dizzy. Over the last ten years, frontiers have been defied and horizons repainted in colors hitherto unknown.

Today, the largest company in the world owes the significant majority of its revenues to products that did not exist till very recently. Apparently, there are almost 100 billion searches each month on Google, up 100 times since just a few years ago. Technology is changing so rapidly that if you are undertaking a 4 year technical course it is possible by the 3rd year that about half of what you learned in the 1st year has become obsolete. A study in developed labour markets indicates that the top ten jobs today were unheard of ten years ago. Do not believe it? Think – App Developer, Cloud Services Manager, Social Media Manager and Sustainability Expert. Get the picture?

What does one do when confronted with change of such velocity? Who dares to attempt answer the question? On the contrary, there is abundant spice to cloud the confusion that business people are faced with currently. A few weeks ago, a leading daily featured an amazing Indian technology company, Zohology. This company is based in Chennai and is fast becoming the new darling of tech-watchers. Zohology obviously knows how to impress, with more than 100,000 customers across 100 countries on their books. What is their mantra? They believe in acquiring a deep knowledge of their customers and then teaching each client how to do their business better. The story of Apple and Steve Jobs is legendary. The mercurial Mr. Jobs did not quite ask customers what they want; he re-defined their needs with every innovation. Nothing can argue success, but how can we follow a model built by the extraordinarily gifted and delivered with maniacal brilliance?

Make Your Customers Work for You

Then there are enterprises who make their customers ‘work’ for them – when I get on to Google I am helping them enhance their own information about me. The better they get, the more I like them. The more I use Google, the better they get! Duolingo is a free service for learning languages. They get users to translate text as part of the learning process. You learn your chosen language; they get a free translator and the opportunity to sell translation services! This has allowed for so many users to enhance their English speaking skills, as well as so many other languages.

In the book ‘Wired and Dangerous’ Chip Bell and John Patterson talk about the balance of power having moved from the corporation to the customer because of the Internet. The web has created a market without boundaries where information moves at the speed of electrons. There is a lot of noise and it is growing, making it difficult to be heard. Even as new fortunes are built there are no guarantees for survival. I am pretty sure someone will soon coin a word to replace ‘adaptation’ – there just is not time for all that jazz anymore!

The original article has been published by The Economic Times