One of the most fascinating business stories I read last week was a short item in Barron’s by Teresa Rivas about Foot Locker’s amazing Q3 earnings. “Foot Locker reported third-quarter earnings nearly double what Wall Street expected despite headwinds from Covid-19, lifting its stock in early trading,” Rivas writes in her article. “The news builds on positive results from Foot Locker’s second quarter, when it reported an unexpected profit and reinstated its dividend, and follows upbeat results from Nike in late September.”
From my perspective, customer-focused brands such as Foot Locker and Nike are proving what many of us in the technology industry have been witnessing first-hand for the pas six months: The pandemic has accelerated and strengthened many segments of the consumer economy, and forced transformational changes to move ahead at light-speed.
The data points I’m seeing point to more than a simple cause-and-effect phenomenon. Great leadership also plays a huge role in determining which companies thrive under these adverse conditions, and which companies lose ground.
When you look at the thriving companies, you see organizations with visionary courageous leaders who are willing to take risks and double down on their technology investments. Many of the top tech leaders I know personally are busier now than they were at this time last year, due almost entirely to the need for extremely rapid and bold adjustments in their customer-facing go-to-market strategies – all of which depend on digital technologies to deliver value.
Moreover, they don’t see a return to “business as usual,” even after the pandemic is under control. Most of the technology executives I speak with on a regular basis describe the shift as fundamental and long-term. Instead of talking about the “new normal,” they’re looking around the corner and trying to imagine the “next normal.”
In a fast-moving and continually changing environment such as the one we’re experiencing now, the focus of industry analysis must shift from products and services to customers and markets. To be honest, many of the world’s leading traditional industry analysts haven’t made that shift yet.
I firmly believe that technology practitioners possess the best knowledge, sharpest instincts and keenest insight. I have faith in the tech leaders who are making the hard decisions every day and boldly guiding their organizations into unexplored territory. That’s why HMG Strategy has built the world’s most trusted peer-to-peer research capabilities.