Dealing with Complexity in Start-ups

Internet companies are running in a constant state of change. Twenty years ago, no one would have predicted the enormous impact companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo would have in the business world. The rate with innovation is happening is tremendous and we often lack data on consumer behavior, operational challenges, and how future trends will impact businesses.

While I was Consumer Director in an online business, in less than a years time I saw the percentage of users coming to the website from mobile devises increase from 25% to 60%, and that introduced complexity for technology, HR, customer service, operations and marketing. We lacked right tech resource, our strategy was wrong and marketing team was ill equipped with relevant experience.

In my experience under situations where business problems are complex and following things can help.

  1. Hire experts or focus on training: If you started with a technology platform which was perfect for online only and now you need to adapt to mobile you may have to restructure the entire technology team. Same applies to business analysts, who may have little to no experience in understanding behavior of consumers on mobile. For young companies, relying on generalists can be costly; either they should hire a specialist or have a continual training program for their employees.
  2. Collaborate more: A marketing team can do wonders with their social media campaigns, but they have to work closely with rest of the company. The impact of a successful campaign can be on technology, customer service and operations teams. If one of them fails to deliver, the whole campaign might fail.
  3. Re-validate past experiments and results: Solutions that may have worked few years back or even few months ago might not be applicable today. The customer segments, needs, new organizations, and other factors influence companies regularly; hence, a solution that was applicable in the past might not be relevant today. For example, an optimised site might not be optimised anymore as most consumers might be checking the site on new mobile interfaces.

Author: Madhur Srivastava

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