"A successful breakaway is ultimately a delicate balance between conserving energy while also preserving your place ahead of the peloton." The quote from By Brian Kendall's article in Active.com titled The Art of the Breakaway speaks volumes to what I believe is happening in visitor management right now. You have a group of companies that broke free from the pack early and they are making it hard for others to catch up.
Whether it is to solve for workflows, touchless, or pre-registration, there is a rush to help customers with new complicated problems, big and small, in an effort to get back to work.
There are clear winners right now attacking the problem with a holistic solution that will make a lasting impact versus others who are opportunistically just trying to solve a short term problem.
Over the past two weeks, I have had countless video calls with companies showcasing their new idea sparked by visiting an office where...gasp...they either had to sign in manually with a pen and paper or even worse, talk to someone (cue Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, "The Horror").
I get the inspiration, but the approach is very 2008: let's build an app. The problem I see with the majority of companies looking to solve the "how do we identify who is coming to the office and are they healthy" question is a desire to replace humans with technology. It is a much more complicated problem that needs a much more sophisticated approach.
The breakaway companies are coming at this with purposeful intentions.
Some of these may seem obvious, and that is the intent of me writing this. But if it is so apparent, why aren't more companies doing it?
Here are some of what the breakaway companies are doing:
- They have a much bigger vision and are not just selling hammers: The concept is providing value on a larger scale (making the places we work better) versus solving problems with a bunch of tools that are somewhat connected (touchless entry). As an example, digital signage solutions that showcase whether or not someone is wearing a mask. Great, but then what?
- They have incorporated care into the design of the products: Human-centric design that puts the end-user at the center or at least on equal footing as the other stakeholders. You see this, for example, in the way the company gives the end-user explicit control of their data, has developed best practices on implementation, and has gone through the exercise of "how could this go bad?" Maybe they can even give examples of how they did not bring a product or service to the market, even though a customer may have asked for it because they know that the negative results will outweigh anything positive. For example, thermal or fever cameras.
- They put trust and confidence at the center of their value proposition over technical features: Sure they capture NDAs but when I ask them, "Tell me about what differentiates you?" the breakaway leaders focus on how they are building trust, confidence with all stakeholders, being transparent, and focused on making work and buildings better. The ability to capture an NDA, for example, is a given.
- They are over-communicating and leading the transformation: The companies that have broken away have a leader(s) that are good at telling stories, value clear communication (even if their corporate comms department may not like it), and give a sense of trust by answering the questions...even the hard ones. The breakaways are playing offense, in public and behind closed doors versus playing defense.
- They are focused on making places better and introducing thoughtful workflows: Or what I like to call "The QR Code Maturity Test." I am starting to see a direct correlation to the lack of maturity in a company based on how quickly they let me know about their ability to send a QR code. This is not "disruption." The companies that use this feature as a differentiator and value creator are missing the bigger picture. It is about what the QR codes (and other features) do and the value it unlocks that is interesting.
- They see the value in working with others and are aggressively partnering: The companies that value-creating a holistic solution for customers will win long term. Sometimes it is about filling in their product gaps, but in most cases, it is about 1+1=3 and bringing the best of bread to the market. I know it is hard to prioritize the development work needed to do the work but it will pay off in the end.
I understand that right now, especially during this pandemic, many are busy, and a lot of us see an opportunity. Lets not just plug a hole with a solution. I do believe, though, that those of us that take a step back organize ourselves to serve this new use case, and a broader stakeholder set will ultimately win.