We’ve seen the en masse “Great Resignation,” with employees reassessing their careers and making bolder-then-usual moves to new jobs. They are not alone — their employers are also re-assessing their goals and purpose. Call it the “great dispersion,” that’s prompting leaders in every industry to question and reassess their business paths.
That’s the word from Scott Galloway, author and professor of marketing at New York University, speaking at Infosys’ recent Cobalt event, where he provided his predictions on going forward into the digital — or post-digital — 2020s.
Setting the stage, Ravi Kumar, president of Infosys, joined Galloway to discuss the acceleration into the digital realm. “CXOs now have a lot of confidence on the digital platform, thanks to the pandemic,” he says. “They have a trusted brand, they have a consumer base, they think they should straddle industries like Amazon did. We have an oil company wants to get into autonomous retail because they can change their gas stations into EV charging, then there is wait time for them to do retail. One of them has already said they want to do financial services and healthcare.”
With accelerated digital engagements, “it’s time to re-evaluate where the value is coming from supply chains,” Galloway says, because the locus of business value is shifting. “We’re on the cusp of a third big tectonic shift in our economy. The first was globalization, the second was digitization. The third is dispersion.”
With dispersion, the challenge is to find the sources of value — “whether it’s an admissions department, or a campus,” says Galloway. “Whether it’s a doctor’s office, or a hospital office, whether it’s a store and shelves. We’re dispersing it out to our porches, our smart speakers, to micro-campuses.”
For example, he says, “pre-pandemic less than 1% of doctors office visits were virtual, now its 30%,” he says. “Think about Covid — 98% or 99% of the people who have contracted Covid never set foot in a hospital, much less a doctor’s office,” he says. “Healthcare is being dispersed away from the traditional sources of value add. You can’t get an appendectomy over the phone, but you can get the consultation, the physical therapy, the drugs.”
Industry leaders will need to “go through their entire supply chains, to see where they traditionally add value. Is that being dispersed out to something else, to technology? If so, how do we take advantage of it?”
Galloway then took aim at his own industry — higher education. “My industry has benefitted off of the concentration of value in the admissions department,” he relates. “Me and my colleagues are drunk off of a rejectionist luxury strategy, where we think we are no longer public servants but we are a Chanel bag. Where my dean will stand up and brag that we turned away 92% of the applicants this year, which, in my view, is tantamount to the head of a homeless shelter bragging that he or she turned away 92% people last night. That’s not what we’re there for.”
The great dispersal here, delivered through technology, would “disperse education away from these concentrated rejectionist cultures. The fastest way to double capacity at NYU or UCLA is to take a third or a half of our sessions online. You can take a half of these professors’ sessions online with no loss in quality. And overnight, you double the capacity.”
With digital transformation dispersing and accelerating, Galloway urges business leaders to look at the trends and take stock of where they want to be in 10 years — both business-wise and personally. “It’s a useful exercise to take the two or three biggest trends in your sector and your business and take them out 10 years and are we here right now,” he says. “What would it mean in terms of our capital allocation, our operating and hiring strategy?”
There are personal implications as well, Galloway says. “What are your relationships with your spouse, your relationships with work, or your mental well-being? Look at trends and take that trend out 10 years and say, do you like where it is?”
Ten years isn’t that long of a time, he adds. “Anyone over the age of 40 knows 10 years is like a season now. It just happens so damn fast it’s just crazy.”