JEA Faces Massive Change, and They are Not Alone

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In an editorial in last Sundays Times-Union, it was revealed that the board of the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) acknowledged for the first time that the status quo is not what it used to be. Board Chairman Alan Howard said JEA in the midst of "historic change: in a "dynamic market". The board points out that sales are more than flat, they are declining. The editorial goes on to say, "The entire utility industry is entering an era of rapid change. This is a shocking change in culture from its history as a conservative industry that only changes slowly." 

What is most newsworthy is not the announcement, but the timing. More evolution than revolution, the decline and "disruptive" nature of JEA's situation springs from renewable energy including solar and wind. The leadership of JEA chose to turn a blind eye toward the forces of change all around them. If a major utility with over a half-million customers can miss such a major opportunity, what about your company?

Every company in every industry will experience marketplace disruption within 5 years. The culprit is not technology, but how your customers use technology. In less than 10 years, the customer journey has changed. The long-term survival of your company hinges on the answer to the question, "Has your company changed?" As a business leader, you have a choice. You can either disrupt your organization or like the JEA, be disrupted.  Here are three opportunities you can use today to ensure that, unlike the JEA, your organization can avoid the chopping block. 

The Breakfast Club

Invite your top five customers to breakfast. Who to invite? Choose the ones who made you exclaim, "If we only have 10 more of this customer." Ask them about their customer journey. How did they discover you? How long did it take for them to trust you? What did it take for them to make the purchase decision? 

Virtual Town Hall

Take what you learned at breakfast and open a conversation. Use your newsletter to conduct a dialog instead of a monolog with your community. Too often organizations talk at their loyal customers instead of talking with them. Don't be surprised if they seem surprised. The art of listening is not a marketing trick, it's an essential part of doing business in the digital age.

Transformation

Leaders who perceive change as a four-letter word use the word disruption. Your organization's future success starts with a change of mindset. Banish the word disruption from your organization and replace it with transformation. Create a current edition of your customer journey. Take stock of your digital tools, workforce skills and talents, streamline your techniques and processes.  

JEA will be sold, and not for a favorable price. It's inevitable. Business brokers tell me it's the "sticker shock" their clients get when they realize the company they spent decades building isn't worth as much as they thought. Will your company share the future fate of JEA? Don't wait for disruption, transform.