Session Recap: Digital Rubicon, Proximity and the Future of All Business

Date: Aug 06 2020

David F. Toth, Managing Director

Innovation often comes out of conflict or hardship that forces us to develop new ideas and a new mindset to solve and overcome the conflict. Robert Wolcott, Co-Founder and Chairman of TWIN Global, asserts that the Covid-19 pandemic is such a time, when so much around us is changing, innovation is booming, and the future is top of mind.

According to Wolcott, the most important input to innovation is building trust and relationships with people. A trusting relationship allows us to listen and believe in new ideas. When we have trust, we are more inclined to give new thinking a chance. With the underlying paradigms of our world changing, of course we still rely on experts to guide us, but we also must seek new and multiple perspectives.

Wolcott deems that as a society, we have crossed the “digital rubicon” in past few months, as we all realized we have no choice but to do things differently. And we had to do it fast, and almost wholly in a digital manner – this includes remote working and virtual meetings for all, increased technology investments, and a focus on cybersecurity. For some the early days of this shift was a real challenge. People had to come up with new ideas quickly, and we had to trust each other as we moved from doing everything in person to doing nearly every single thing online.

What companies realized is that customers and employees both like this virtual world. It’s less disruptive and more productive (less travel, less expense). Before this crisis, making big changes this quickly would have been nearly impossible, and surely been hampered by thinking “what could go wrong.” But this time we had no choice. And in most cases, it’s more desirable and works better.

If it’s possible to find a positive in this pandemic, it’s been the opening of our minds to digital transformation and trying new things. While traditional wisdom is always valuable, our conditions dictate how we approach the world – so it’s a great time to have new conversations, and quite possibly the best time ever to talk about new ideas and a new way to approach things. Doors are opening, and people are listening.

Wolcott believes we have about five years to take advantage of this window of opportunity. Why? Because in five years, 5G wireless communications capabilities will be a colossal enabler of future tech and business changes. The implementation of 5G is exponentially better than 4G. We’ll be able to communicate effectively in split seconds and push analytics and decision making to the edge.

Wolcott says we must use good foresight and pay attention to all these different digital and digitally-enabled innovations. Digital technology drives one common underlying dynamic – it allows us access to data, analytics, decision making and production, all at smaller and smaller locations around the economy. As this happens distribution capabilities get closer and closer to every moment in time and space. This creates proximity, where digital technology pushes the production and provision of products and services ever closer to the moment at which they might be demanded – i.e. what we want, how we want it, and where we want it.

According to Wolcott, this will all happen – not if, just when. We don’t necessarily know who the winners will be or how will it roll out, but using foresight and proximity helps us know where to pay attention. We want to keep all these innovations in our peripheral, so we know more before the competition or the vast majority of investors.

How does innovation play out for the family office? How do families not get boxed into their current business structure? Wolcott advises creating a risk and opportunity committee, including outsiders with credibility. Also encourage family members to take a second look. Leaders have to make it safe and appropriate to challenge the assumptions and logic in smart ways on a regular basis. Families who want to try something different should strike the balance between the old and new way of thinking.

Some may wonder how this landscape of innovation and proximity affects strategy and planning. Wolcott says it depends on your budget and the size and scope of your initiatives. He notes that often, the faster things change, the faster people want to get moving – but you still need a strategic frame of mind. The further out you have to look, the more foresight you need.

What can you do right now to keep up-to-date on the future? For one, pay attention, read, research, and keep your eyes on the periphery. And especially make sure you consider what comes next for you, your business, your family, after this challenge has passed.

David Toth - Family Office Exchange

David Toth is a managing director at FOX. In his role, he constructs actionable insights and strategic analyses for family offices and wealth management advisor members. He developed a pathway of initiatives that assist family offices and wealth advisors in building pricing strategies, elevating client experience, talent management strategies and optimizing team structure, and achieving profitable growth. David has authored a number of reports including our recently published study on the “Transformation of the Ultra-Wealth Business.” David serves as co-moderator of FOX’s Multi-Family Office (MFO), Integrated Wealth Advisor (IWAC) Councils, and the Strategic CIO Council (SCIOC).

Areas of Expertise: Industry Trends, Advisor Strategies

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