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Fourth industrial revolution demands change in entrepreneurship

Nokia used to make good telephones, but was ruined. V&D was a good shop, but went bankrupt. These companies failed because they did not change along with the market, according to Prof Dr. Cor Molenaar during the AGF-Kennis-(sen)dag 2016 (the fresh produce knowledge and acquaintance day 2016). “Change is necessary, or you will not make it to 2020 with your company,” said the professor.

That quick change is connected to the advance of smartphones. “On average, we look at our smartphones 100 times per day,” Molenaar says. “During a boring congress, it could even be 100 times per hour,” he winks. The smartphone has an ever-increasing place in our lives. Because we are always available, it is also expected that we respond to e-mails quickly. 


Prof Dr Cor Molenaar.

Purchasing motive as starting point
Additionally, the composition of households is changing. One in three households in the Netherlands is a one-person household. This always involves a degree of solitude, Molenaar explains. That is why people are increasingly searching for experiences and happiness, by being more conscious about their food, among other things. For companies, this also means that the experience has to become more important for the products they supply.

In order to anticipate that properly, a change in the thought-process is necessary. “It is no longer about the selling argument, but about the purchasing motive. The choice to buy a product is decided by many factors. For example, the consumer who sits on the sofa on his own, buys a cheaper beer, but a different brand is placed in front of guests. You need to find out what customers want, and analyse that information.” Sharing data is crucial for that. Based on all of the data collected by Amazon, the American company can predict what someone will buy next month. Products are then already shipped to DCs, so that the products can be delivered faster when the order is actually made.

Drones, Airbnb and Uber
“We are in the fourth industrial revolution,” Molenaar continues. Smart-phones are necessary in order to be part of it. People without smartphones are left out. Drones are advancing, and for those saying capacity is still insufficient: in a year, drones might be able to transport up to 100 kilograms, Molenaar predicts.

The restraining factors in these developments are existing structures, such as opening times and the fact that thousands of people are stuck in traffic every day during their commute, even though that work is done on computers, and computers could be located anywhere. Finally, Molenaar pointed out various new developments. Car, house and office are now used for a limited number of hours, why would you not rent them out during the other hours? Uber and Airbnb are successful initiatives. “Nonsense, you say? This is what consumers want.” 

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