As it appeared in the Daily Nation on November 12th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
Today’s marketplace is different, and it is complex. More than ever before the marketplace has many players and a number of interacting parts. The complexity of the marketplace is evident across industries; it does not matter whether one is in trade, manufacturing or the service industry. Today’s commercial dealings are difficult for employees, for businesses, for business leaders and even for customers. If you visit any main street in Nairobi’s Central Business District, numerous traders are selling similar or comparable items. The buyers too are in plenty. When we want to buy a laptop for example, we are spoilt for choice, the brand, price, the functionality, the mode of purchase are diverse. The diversity and complexity of the marketplace is both a pain and a pleasure.
A marketplace with many players and a wide-variety makes it possible for customers to find what they need at a competitive price. However, such a marketplace also makes it difficult and time-consuming for customers to choose between alternatives. Though most consumers are getting better at making a choice, most businesses are getting worse at helping consumers make the best choice. Consumers want to buy with ease. A simple glance at a menu in most restaurants can be overwhelming. Too much to choose from. It can get worse when an item ordered for as per the menu is not even available. The wide-variety complicates choice as consumers seek out value for their money. To the consumers, many players and wide-variety are pleasurable in terms of competitive pricing but painful in terms of decision-making. In today’s marketplace, consumer decision remains a major headache. As consumers, we like to compare and contrast the price, quantity and quality. The complexity of today’s market place does not ease these comparisons. As businesses, what are we doing to help our consumers make the best choice within the shortest time possible?
Besides the businesses and the consumers, there are many other interacting parts in the marketplace. There the employees, the unions, the associations, suppliers, the partners, the regulators, the government both local and national. All these play a significant role in the marketplace. For the optimal functioning of the marketplace, all parts need to work in tandem. Unfortunately, they often only add additional complications to the marketplace making it more complex. For instance, some regulatory and government authorities are not outright with their requirements for businesses to operate smoothly. As such, it becomes hard to work with them. Very recently, I dealt with a government body that did not seem to comprehend its processes. Why do we need to take anyone round in circles and complicate an already complex marketplace? Why can’t we keep it simple and straightforward? What unnecessary processes can we eliminate?
To survive in today’s overly complex marketplace, businesses must simplify their offering and their interactions with customers, employees, suppliers and other partners. I believe that only businesses that remain creatively simple will win in the marketplace. Simplicity in business means being easy to do business with, it often triumphs over complexity. The future is for those that will keep it simple!
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy