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The Connected Enterprise

PODCAST

Trust Technology to Guide Us Through: Best-Selling Author Arie Brish Explains How Tried & Tested Technology Can Help Stabilize Your Business

Posted by Vision33 on Apr 15, 2020 12:00:00 PM

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Full Transcript

Carl Lewis:

Welcome to the Connected Enterprise Podcast. I’m Carl Lewis, your host from Vision33, and my guest is Arie Brish, an author, businessman, teacher, traveler, and many other things, I'm sure. Arie, it's wonderful to have you. Please tell us about yourself.

Arie Brish:

Thanks for having me, Carl. I grew up in high tech for most of my career. I've done work in networking and wireless and different generations of the networking space. I’ve also worked with the supply chain. I spent the last few years mentoring entrepreneurs, and one thing I learned is young people come with wonderful ideas – but usually, they have no clue or experience on the blind spots or pay bombs. In military slang, we call those land mines.

Arie Brish:

I started regularly blogging about this, thinking about different landmines, and a few months later, I had enough material for a book. I didn't know it would become a book only a year into it, and the book surprised me by becoming a best seller. I'm happy with that. I'm also happy to share some of the book’s philosophy with your audience. The book is called Lay an Egg and Make Chicken Soup. It plays on the question of the chicken and the egg. I took it to the next level of chicken soup.

Carl Lewis:

That's great. Before we finish, we'll tell the audience where they can buy it. I've read it, and it's a good approach. It’s easier to read than many business books but still communicates thoughts well. Arie, companies are running under the effects of the coronavirus. Many are reeling, a few are thriving, and many are scrambling to adapt to the new mobility requirement. As businesses adapt to this new reality, what advice would you offer?

Arie Brish:

The technology facilitating telecommuting/remote working has existed for 15 or 20 years; it’s nothing new. There are three groups of people here. One, those familiar with working remotely, such as traveling business people or people with sick kids. When I worked for Motorola, the first employee who started this phenomenon was a young lady with a baby. She said, “I want to spend more time with my newborn, but I also want to keep working.” She proposed the working-from-home arrangement.

Arie Brish:

We’d never heard of that, but even back then, in the mid-1990s, the technology existed. It was the philosophy and people realizing it's possible and employers trusting employees to do it. In the second group, the technology exists, but many haven’t done it because of regulations. Telemedicine, for example. We had that technology 25 years ago, but the regulations and insurance companies didn't allow it. Then the governor of Texas said they could do telemedicine, and suddenly everyone's doing telemedicine.

Arie Brish:

There are advantages to telemedicine. You don't have to drive to see your doctor and sit in the lobby with sick people. It saves everyone time and eliminates the risks of getting another illness. In the third group are the people who can’t telecommute because of how they do their work – chefs, construction crews, etc. The technology exists; they just need to think about different business models that will allow them to do it naturally. We see more restaurants delivering the meals to your house, as an example.

Carl Lewis:

Even though the technology was there, it seems like companies are reluctant to accept the mobile workforce and make provisions for their workers, like the woman who wanted to spend more time with her child. Although they could have done that, they didn't. They stayed very on-premise with these concepts, and now they're scrambling. What are the biggest challenges they’ll face as they deploy those technologies?

Arie Brish:

One is the realization that you can trust people to work remotely. Here’s an example of where people will freak out when they hear that: judges hearing court cases on conference calls. There are advantages to that. The judge will judge more on facts and data and less on what the lawyers and defendants look like and what kind of “show” they perform. Appeal courts already do lots of remote work; only the lower levels of court require lawyers talking face to face. The judge is watching your body language and blah blah blah – but the law must be decided based on facts and data, not body language or whether you like the color of the defendant’s eyes.

Carl Lewis:

That's interesting.

Arie Brish:

That’s one example of how out of the box technology is today. So, people must realize that it's possible and trust the system to do it. Another example is voting. This is an election year. Why not vote from home? We have the technology to make it secure. You can move millions of dollars from your mobile phone, but you can’t vote. The government will tell you there’s a risk of election fraud, but cybersecurity is robust enough to trust the system and people. There are ways to ensure people won't vote more than once and verify that they are who they claim to be. Today, you can make sure everything is correct.

Carl Lewis:

So, one of the biggest challenges is trust. Trusting people and trusting technology.

Arie Brish:

The other challenge is being creative with your business model. For example, all the spectator sports on hold because some NBA players had coronavirus. Only 20% of their business model is selling tickets. Because everything else is advertising, TV rights, etc. they can play without spectators and still make about 80% of the revenue. Sure, they’ll have to test the players every week or something like that, but that's doable. They need to realize they can give up the ticket sales revenue and maybe make it up in another aspect.

Carl Lewis:

That's an excellent point. If they figure out how to isolate anyone who's infected and test everyone else. The availability of testing affects that, though.

Arie Brish:

Yes, but that's temporary because everyone was caught off guard. In a few weeks, there will be enough testing capacity to test everyone once a week or whatever, depending on risk factors.

Carl Lewis:

That might allow businesses to get back to work. Do you think this situation will have lasting effects on American business?

Arie Brish:

Definitely. And not just American business, global business. Many industries offered online services before, but it was a smaller percentage of the business ecosystem. Now people will be more used to it and maybe even addicted to working remotely. It will become more mainstream. If the coronavirus had happened 30 years ago, it would have been a major disaster because the technology didn’t exist. Today, it exists. It's just a matter of people or businesses allowing themselves to take advantage of it.

Carl Lewis:

What we knew about epidemiology 30 years ago wouldn't have helped much either. Things have changed a lot. Will this new reality directly affect business communication? We've had email for a long time. Social media is big for us, and tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, etc. Is this a golden opportunity for new communication channels to fill a void?

Arie Brish:

Yes. First, the different types of communication have pros and cons. For example, email, text, or voicemail. You don't need the other person immediately. You can ask a question, and the person will respond when they can. This is handy when you have global operations with offices in the US, Europe, India, etc. You ask about XYZ, and when you come back to the office the next morning, you have the answer.

Arie Brish:

Email, voicemail, and text won’t go away. The biggest change recently is that the bandwidth of communication has improved so much, especially with 5G coming up. Video telephone conversations will become more pervasive. People don't just call audio anymore; they call video. That’s probably the biggest development in the past two or three years: the capacity and performance of the networks allow us to do video calls whenever we want.

Carl Lewis:

That's true, except when time zone issues come into play.

Arie Brish:

Right. That's why I say email, text, and voicemail won’t go away. Even in the same time zone, if you have a question in a meeting, you can text your colleague while still in the meeting. Twenty years ago, you had to walk out of the meeting, call the person and hope they’d answer, and ask the question. If you were lucky, they’d have the answer. If not, they’d have to research and call you back. With texting, you can do it without any interruption.

Carl Lewis:

And if they don't know the answer, they'll immediately Google it and tell you.

Arie Brish:

Exactly.

Carl Lewis:

I have to be cautious about the video calls to my compatriots in the UK at the wrong time of day.

Arie Brish:

Same here. Most of my work is global. Before this call, I had a call with my colleagues in Europe, and we did it via video. Video conference calls are becoming the norm. Two or three years ago, that wasn't the case.

Carl Lewis:

Arie, our customers have always wanted more from their suppliers and vendors than just the lowest price. The buzzword is customer experience, and it's an ever-increasing component of business relationships. How can a business deliver a great customer experience?

Arie Brish:

There are different ways. Before, you’d walk to a hairdresser, sit in a nice lobby, and get a glass of wine or champagne. When the relationship with the customer is at home, and everything is remote, you can still give a good experience. Send flowers or a box of chocolates on their birthday. A bottle of wine with your logo if you’re the supplier. There are many ways to delight your customers remotely.

Carl Lewis:

For sure.

Arie Brish:

You can even have happy birthday or happy anniversary message pop up on their phones or computers.

Carl Lewis:

Do you think it's important to be transparent and not make promises we can't keep? Like telling them what type of supply chain challenges we're facing?

Arie Brish:

Absolutely. You need to ensure the customer understands. The stuff I didn't find in the supermarket I ordered via Amazon. The first estimated delivery date was the end of April, but two days later, they said I’ll get it next week. Or sometimes they say they didn't realize it was out of stock and will be delayed by however long. That always happens. As a customer, I expect my supplier to update me and be transparent, and as a customer, I should understand when the supplier tells me they had an earthquake or the coronavirus, etc. People are usually reasonable.

Carl Lewis:

That's what I find in most cases. So, disasters, whether they’re driven by a virus, economic slowdown, or mother nature, can break a business. But other businesses will thrive and do wonderful things. Some are more prepared than others. What can businesses do to ensure they survive – or even thrive – during times like these?

Arie Brish:

First, although you can’t expect everything, there are things you can during your planning to mitigate different risks. The process is called risk management. List you and your team. List all the things that could happen, like viruses, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. Then create a second column with three categories: high, medium, and low. Define those disasters. Ask, “How would risk X affect my business? How would risk Y affect it?”

Arie Brish:

Then take the ones that are both high probability and high impact and plan mitigations for those. No one expected a pandemic, so no one was prepared for something of this magnitude. You can’t plan for everything, unfortunately. September 11th, for example. The 2008 downturn was forecasted because they saw the writing on the wall and the banking situation, but September 11th was a total surprise. Same thing with this virus.

Arie Brish:

You must do this with the supply chain and revenue stream. In both cases, make sure you’re not dependent on a single source from a supply chain viewpoint. Make sure you have at least two sources for the main items – at least – in your recipe. You need multiple sources of revenue, whether that’s multiple customers or multiple business models. Don't rely on the worst thing that can happen. Don’t have one customer with one business model and be dependent on that.

Arie Brish:

Ideally, you have multiple customers, business models, and lines of business so they mitigate the risk of one line of business going dry. It remains with others, and that's true on personnel and business levels.

Carl Lewis:

Very much so.

Arie Brish:

If something unexpected happens, like the coronavirus, you need to be creative enough and move fast enough to bounce back and make lemonade from the lemons. My favorite example is vodka distilleries here in Texas. Within a week, they converted the production line to disinfectant gels instead of drinking vodka. That's a perfect example of recovering quickly from a bad situation.

Carl Lewis:

I have friends who would think the vodka was a disinfectant.

Arie Brish:

Right. It's liquid, so probably all they needed to do was add some gel substance to make sure it doesn’t spill. It was a pretty easy modification.

Carl Lewis:

It seems like several companies are doing similar things. But when you have a risk management plan and several possible scenarios, you’d be prepared even for a surprise. At least, somewhat prepared. You’d be able to adapt those plans to a new risk, right?

Arie Brish:

The risk mitigation for unexpected disasters, since you don't know what to expect, is multiple sources of the supply chain, multiple markets, and multiple products. On the BBC, they interviewed the CEO of Mercedes. China is a big market for them, both in the supply chain and customers. Chinese are buying. The economy is good now, and they're buying cars. The time shifts between the European markets and Chinese market helped them because they lost the Chinese market before it became a disaster in Europe and the US. Now it’s becoming a major issue in Europe and the US, but China is coming back. The CEO said that although it's not perfect, at least when one market went down, another was still stable. He was able to keep Mercedes’s head above water.

Carl Lewis:

Arie, thank you. Now tell us where we can buy the book.

Arie Brish:

I'm glad you asked! First, on my website. There’s a link to buy the book and lots of free material, too. It's also available on Amazon and most other retail outlets for books and literature.

Carl Lewis:

And the title was Crack an Egg and Make Chicken Soup?

Arie Brish:

Lay an Egg and Make Chicken Soup. Don't crack it yet.

Carl Lewis:

I was messing with you. Lay an Egg and Make Chicken Soup. Arie, thanks so much for being here. As I tell my audience all the time, I try to keep these short and to the point, so until next time, everyone please stay connected.

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