The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. — Isaac Asimov – “My Own View” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978)
There has been much discussion lately of the need to reinvent your business model. Everyone from the Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur Magazine and American Express consistently post articles dealing with corporate reinvention. They tout successful examples such as Apple, PayPal and Burberry. Unsuccessful companies that used to dominate their respective industries litter today’s landscape and bankruptcy courts, including such household names as Hostess, Polaroid and Borders.
Here at Maxi Container we have taken a long slow look at corporate reinvention and have made over our company significantly in the last 10 years. In doing so we have focused on our core competencies, looked for new markets, addressed bottlenecks in our management and operation, strengthened our fiscal controls, upgraded our truck and trailer fleet and adopted a wide range of new technologies to allow us to work smarter, faster and mobile with an emphasis on enhancing the customer experience and adding value to our products and services.
Some of the changes are internal and there is no need for discussion. Two of the biggest, our entry into new markets with our mirainbarrel and miwinebarrel subsidiaries, will be discussed in future posts. Our new e-commerce platform, which will debut in the future is another major reinvention.
However, one of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding changes has been cloud computing. This is a much overused term and can be defined in many ways. Here we use a combination of private and public cloud storage, networking, desktop virtualization, and software as a service to tie all of our various desk top computers, smart phones, tablets and laptops into a coherent whole. Furthermore, all of our data is encrypted for privacy, protected from viruses and continually backed up. The service is scalable so as we add personnel or locations it is easy to tie them into the existing cloud and network infrastructure. Much of the credit for our adoption of this technology goes to my son, Joshua Rubin, Creative Director at Maxi Container, Inc.
As a result, any Maxi Container sales person or operations person has complete access to any and all information necessary to do their jobs at all times from anywhere. We use our private cloud and various apps such as, shared Outlook Calendars, Evernote, Dropbox, Adobe EchoSign and Kibits (a new collaborative app for android and iPhone) to create a truly collaborative workplace that increases our efficiency and creates additional value for the customer.
Quotes for unique products can be electronically signed and archived and are available 24/7, not just during office hours. Sales personnel have complete access to customer pricing and purchase history whether in the office, their vehicle, or on-site at a customer’s location. Purchase Orders can be processed in a variety of ways including email or Electronic Data Interchange. Payments can be made on mobile devices, PayPal or Credit Card . Several customers are using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to place orders and receive invoices and ACH transactions for payments. Checks are scanned in so they are credited to the customer’s account and deposited in the bank the same day as received. Our goal is to eventually equip drivers and warehouse personnel with mobile devises that move this efficiency and customer value throughout our supply chain.
This move has not been without bumps and bruises along the way. There were the inevitable glitches, issues with data capacity and learning curves. We are still experimenting with how best to use our new tools and collaborative environment. However, every day brings more and more examples to light of how we can enhance the customer experience through collaborative work and cloud computing. You may never see it, but it will affect every aspect of our business as we move forward with our reinvented business model.