Corporate Reinvention

Envisioning new path emerges as theme at NCR conference

Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor

ATLANTA -- Voicing a theme of reinvention, general session speakers at the NCR users' conference addressed its integration of two competing solution firms as well as the development of a culture that will both differentiate and define it going forward.

Duluth, Ga.-based NCR acquired point-of-sale (POS) and c-store solutions firms Radiant and Retalix in 2011 and 2013, respectively, and for the first time, it is holding a combined users' conference to communicate new initiatives and explain the newly formed company's vision.

"We've taken the very best of our companies to create a shared vision of where we want to go over the next decade," Scott Kingsfield, senior vice president and general manager for retail at NCR told about 1,000 attendees yesterday at the conference's opening session in Atlanta. "It's one strategy, one platform and one team."

The company chose more of an integrated route vs. operating the companies as separate entities to "allow us to realize the promise of the businesses," he said, going on to mention the company's integrated software, hardware and services solutions for the broad range of retail channel and supply chain customers in the audience.

To augment the theme of reinvention, Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company magazine, spoke to issues of differentiation and adopting a culture that ultimately cares about its people and what it produces.

Describing today's competitive landscape as a chaotic place of constant disruption, he said that the key to success for any company will be its ability to stand out. "Originality has become the acid test," said Taylor. "We lived in a world where the strong took from the weak. That world is over. Today, the smart take from the strong. They aspire to redefine the competition."

From his perspective, companies that have reinvented themselves start from within, creating an internal culture that "stands for something." Ultimately, these internal revelations have less to do with business strategy than emotional, human ties.

He gave the example of Toyota and how they developed a luxury brand in Lexus. Coming from being a brand known for reliability, and what some would describe as "dull," Toyota reinvented the Lexus experience, creating showrooms with marble floors in the bathrooms and putting chocolates in the back seats of their cars. They even took a page from Apple, creating a learning center where customers could better understand the technologies imbedded in their high-priced vehicles.

"R&D also stands for 'rip off and duplicate'," Taylor advised.

Taylor also spoke of a kidney dialysis firm called Divida that reinvented itself from a flagging business to a thriving one by developing an internal culture of caring. "They thought about how they treated each other [as co-workers] and created a community," he said. "Treat each other right and the business will right itself."

In providing advice to the group about creating a successful vision, Taylor suggested three things:

  • Provide an offer that's hard to come by. In other words, develop a value proposition unique to the market.
  • Embrace a big idea, which refers to deciding to stand for something important.
  • Accept the human element, meaning that whatever the big idea a company chooses to embrace, it will undoubtedly be "intensely human."

About 1,000 retail customers, 50 technology partners and several dozen NCR employees were in attendance at the three-day conference.