Islamic finance & Halal are powerhouses that are driving the Islamic economy forward. Whilst using the product-centric approach has worked till date, it’s critical to take on board the sociological changes that have come about. Authenticity & value are the order of the day. Both of these emanate from people. People are what makes and runs a business. Without people there is no business. It’s time for these golden twins to look at business planning from a people-centric view and identifying clear value propositions that aid people in order for them to have growth.
Today’s social media connected world is driving a whole new set of behaviours for people. Prime amongst them is the way how people are looking, engaging and interacting with businesses.
This has important learnings for all sectors of industry today and especially for the industry captains leading the charge.
Heard the refrain—“garbage in, garbage out”? Well that used to be a mantra in the tech industry when technological changes were rapid. The changes took time to catch on simply because people adapt at different speeds. But businesses adapting and using new technology knew if they continued to use the new technology with the old processes the results weren’t going to be different from the past. This change brought about many innovations within business processes across industries.
Today given the changes in behaviour of people, resulting from the various crisis of the past decade, not taking these behaviour changes into account in doing business is akin to being an ostrich and burying one’s head in the sand!
The golden twins of the Islamic economy—Islamic Finance & Halal—are not exempted from these behaviourial changes. Not recognizing them and not factoring its impact on business can have disastrous consequences in the future.
How does it impact Islamic finance & Halal?
That’s where the impact has happened.
Islamic Finance has been a product-centric purely due to the business model it has followed. With corporate finance being the focus, primary business is between two organisations. Organisations drive business amongst themselves with the single-minded objective of making profit. It’s a business process that simply looks at two organisations doing a deal (read ‘money’). The people part is totally missing. This comes about from yesteryear’s business management techniques where the concept was to have a superior product. Once you have that, the product is supposed to sell itself simply by virtue of its superiority over other similar products. This mind-set is what drove and is still driving the corporate finance side of Islamic Finance and it’s why we do not see the retail side garnering strength or being able to come forth with innovative products.
On the Halal side, the focus has been on food (read ‘meat’) and on the process through which the food is processed. That process has a generic certification– ‘halal’. In the past decade there has been increasing demand for other areas—travel, hospitality, fashion, pharma—to name a few, which need halal certification. But a global or regional certification standard is still at a debate stage.
Bottom-line is that both these powerhouses of the Islamic economy are yet to put people in the forefront of their business operations.
We are yet to see a business approach that clearly details the value proposition for the people involved with it i.e. its staff, customers, and partners. Business objectives are still coming from a product-centric basis and not from a deep understanding of the people and their behaviour and their actual needs.
Can this be done?
Yes! Even in a B2B scenario, it is important to keep in mind, that people representing the organisations are involved in the purchase decision making process.
This is the critical point where it’s absolutely necessary to look at proper leadership and competency alignment for the organisation and its staff. Without this alignment the displayed business behaviour and key brand messages would not be in synchrony. Without this synchrony it would not be possible to communicate transparently a clearly defined value benefit to the recipient. Without a clearly defined value benefit it would not be possible to develop trust which in turn would lead to the sale.
(Joy Abdullah is a cross-functional organisational expert, specialising in brand-based business sustainability which, in essence, is getting the organisation to focus on its customer experience. To know more about Joy, follow him on LinkedIn or check out his Blog Benefit Point)