Apr 252013
Employees in Starbucks Amsterdam store

USA Today has an interesting interview with Starbucks CEO and founder Howard Schultz.

It’s worth watching as he maps out where the coffee chain is heading and the importance of innovation and relevancy to his business.

Schultz’s view about the coffee store of the future is intriguing – he knows it will be different but he doesn’t know in what way and that’s why his business is experimenting with different ways of doing things.

“Sure, we’re doing work now on the store of the future,” says Schultz. “It is not only linked to the physical but the digital experience.”

It’s not only the use of digital tools, social media and mobile payments that Schultz is exploring, it’s how does such a huge chain remain relevant to its customers.

“We have to answer the question in the affirmative about how to maintain relevancy. Relevancy can’t only be in the four walls of our stores, we have to be as relevant with our customers where they work, play and even on their phones.”

Relevancy is something that can’t be taken for granted by any business – becoming irrelevant to customers is a death-knell for most enterprises. This is something that challenging the media industry as its struggles to find its role in changed society.

On the same day that story was posted, IBM’s CEO Virginia Rometty made a pointed address to her 434,000 employees on where the company has fallen behind.

“Where we haven’t transformed rapidly enough, we struggled,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “We have to step up with that and deal with that, and that is on all levels.”

“Our performance reminds us that there are profound shifts under way in our industry.”

That the world’s biggest coffee chain is dealing with those profound shifts better than one of the biggest technology companies is a notable point about the times we live in.

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