‘Because it’s there’
Business prosperity in a time of change
Overseas Moving Network International (OMNI) General Manager Ian Waters explains why change must be
driven, rather than merely embraced, to ensure the moving industry continues to thrive in years to come.
When British mountaineer George Mallory was asked in
1923 why he wanted to be the first to climb Mount Everest,
he answered: “because it’s there.” It was this drive, this
ambition, that made him extraordinary. Perhaps it’s time
the moving industry had a little more of the Mallory
spirit. Let me explain.
Every business relishes differentiation: something that
makes it different from its competitors. Yet how many
actively strive for it? In the moving industry (in the past at
least), very few. Movers were content to stay comfortable,
to remain the same. When new technology and ideas
arrived, they took the attitude: “we don’t need to do that,
so we won’t do it”. Mallory didn’t need to climb Everest,
but he did.
Movers were pushed into change. When technology
reached a point where companies risked being left behind,
they jogged to catch up with a bandwagon that had
already advanced around the next bend. Is the industry
any different today? A little, I think. Some companies at
least are beginning to see that they need to take a different
approach if they are to prosper in the longer term.
The problem is the rate of change, and it’s not just in
terms of tech. Along with technological change we have
seen cultural change on a scale hitherto unknown.
The customer of today is not the same as the customer
of 20 years ago. Countless articles have been penned
about the changing attitudes of corporations and their
millennial employees towards globalisation and the
use of technology, and there’s no need to repeat them
here. What is important, however, is our reaction to
Taking risks and reaping rewards
Right now, we have new technologies at our fingertips
that are gaining momentum. Virtual surveys are being
used by some, vehicle and shipment tracking is available
(albeit rarely used), and certain companies have
embraced the opportunities offered by smartphones. Yet
how many have really pushed the technology as far as it
For this industry to truly prosper as the rate of change
continues to accelerate, a change of thinking is required.
We need to move from “what should we do?” to “what
can we do?” Computer technology is arguably unique in
having been invented without a purpose, sound in the
knowledge that applications would follow. While there
Removals & Storage April 2020
seems to be little evidence that Thomas John Watson, a
former CEO of IBM, really did estimate the world market
for computers to number just five, he and many others
could never have imagined the ubiquity of their
Movers, too, need to look to what is possible with the
opportunities we have, be bold and take some chances.
We should embrace technology and be innovative in its
application. If there’s anything we can do that will make
our customers’ lives a little easier, we should try. Many, of
course, will fail; Mallory, indeed, died on the mountain.
But the prospect of failure is not an excuse for inaction,
particularly today, when inaction represents the virtual
certainty of failure. By taking chances, by being
inventive, we might discover the golden ticket that leads
on to fortune.
Today our industry is being commoditised and
disrupted. We are only a moment away from
revolutionary disruption that will force us into the kind
of change we do not want. The only way to protect our
industry is by becoming the disrupter ourselves, leaving
no door open to the potential usurpers that covet the air
we breathe. They are there, just waiting to pounce.
Hence, for instance, OMNI is supporting FIDI and the
International Association of Movers (IAM) in developing
new communication standards for the mobility industry
under the name of the Moving Mobility Standards
Alliance (MMSA). It’s ambitious, and many will prophesy
failure, but I believe we must try. If we succeed it could
represent a huge leap forward, revolutionising the way in
which the whole industry communicates worldwide.
Crucially, the technology is already available; we just
need the will to make it work for us.
May I share another quotation: “if you always do what
you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always
got.” That was Henry Ford. A century down the line, I
think Henry is wrong. Today, if you always do what
you’ve always done, you’ll be gone in no time. Today,
you must be different.
But with change comes opportunity. For some, this
new market with its new technology and new customers
will be a rich seam. But if you want to be a part of it,
you’ll need to step back, take a breath and work out
how you can embrace technology and use it
creatively – because you can, because you must,
and because it’s there.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar, act 4, scene 3
“Movers need to look to
what is possible with the
opportunities we have,
be bold and take some
chances. We should
embrace technology and be
innovative in its application.
If there’s anything we can do
that will make our customers’
lives a little easier, we should
try… By taking chances, by
being inventive, we might
discover the golden ticket
that leads on to fortune.”
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18 Removals & Storage April 2020