Automate, Mechanise, Digitise or die!

Feb 10, 2020 3:09:09 PM / by Pavlo Phitidis

It might not seem like it with trade wars, Brexit and burgeoning nationalistic intentions across many countries today…but the world is getting smaller. Technology has ensured this. Today, you might be the king in your industry and tomorrow, a minnow from a far away place usurps your market knocking you from your throne.

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How can this happen?

Think back 10 years and look at how many things have been replaced by the mobile phone! Acting as a distribution point directly in the hand of your customer, a small upstart in San Francisco, reaches you directly through social media with a compelling proposition on mobile payments. It’s called Zapper and it has eaten market share from South African banks, merchandise POS, courier businesses that deliver cards, ink and printing companies that make them and so on. This was all enabled by the internet and technology. Another example is digital cameras, radios, photo albums, game boards, newspapers and so forth. How do you think Ster Kinekor and DSTV feel about Netflix or Musica about Spotify?

The ability to reach customers directly, the digitisation and collapse of value chains and a realisation from smart small businesses that specialisation is the game to play in winning the future, this is only the beginning.

How can you prevent it or compete with it?

Do it yourself. Emulate it. Build your business against these principles and it might be you usurping a competitor in a far away land.  

What about the threat to jobs?

Securing jobs and driving employment in a country requires sustainable, growing businesses. If you aren’t growing, you are dying as a business. The death comes from inflation, loss of staff and talent, loss of customers to competitors who are growing and so on. To spur job creation and employment, we need a vibrant SME sector. Vibrancy is created by encouraging people to start and grow businesses, opening and deregulating markets, promoting competition that drives innovation that attracts funding and talent to create a virtuous cycle. A vibrant SME sector generates more tax and creates more jobs. It also creates competition in job seekers to improve their skills and invest in their talent.

How do you do it?

  1. Specialise

This means do less but doing more. You serve a smaller, tighter segment of clients but double down on deepening your understanding of them. This enables you to create an experience that will resonate with them and help you reach and land your message to them smartly and effectively.

  1. Systematise your customer experience

A customer experience involves many elements. How you reach them, what you communicate, how they engage with you and how, if you win their business, you fulfil their expectations. Each of these elements is made up of activities placed in a sequence to create a measurable result. Think of just one simple example in a hotel’s guest experience.

Placing a treat on the pillow in a turndown service and doing it in a manner that creates a great experience is a system. The activities include offering a turndown service, notifying housekeeping, entering the room, turning down the bed and placing a chocolate on the pillow, dimming the lights, closing the curtains and spritzing an air freshener before leaving the room. It’s simple and it has many activities, in sequence to create the measured experience as a result.

  1. Digitise it

Now that you have developed the system and implemented it, you can digitise it. For example, you can automate a call to the room offering the turndown service. Should the guest want it and presses 1 for “yes”, an automated notification goes to the room services scheduling system, notifying the chamber maid on duty allocated to that room that the guest wants the turndown service. This individual then receives a notification to deliver the service at, say 6pm and enters the room to do so. Once done, the chamber made confirms delivery of the service using a mobile device which in turn schedules a message to be sent the next day to the guest asking them to rate the service.


This simple example offers the hotel certainty and confidence that a simple turndown service, which has a high impact on the guest experience, will be done every time. It’s one small activity in all the many activities that make up a guest experience. Automating and digitising one then lets you move onto the next. As these activities are automated, the guest experience, which is something very hard to curate and maintain, becomes more predictable and certain. The impact is to then turn the curated guest experience into a consistent outcome that builds and perpetuates the brand of the hotel. That experience then becomes synonymous with the brand and through that, draws more people like the type of guests the hotel envisioned it wanted to serve.


We work with established business to build businesses of excellence. Because we work in the UK, USA and EU, we are constantly exposed to what this means. Competitive, well-developed economies spur innovation, which allows us to understand the global standards of competition. Working with you, that’s what we set out to build: The opportunity for your business to be the minnow usurping a competitor in a faraway land.




Topics: Asset of Value, Business Owner, 4IR, SweatScaleSell, Growth, Future, #Automation, #Mechanisation, #Digitise

Pavlo Phitidis

Written by Pavlo Phitidis

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