No industry is immune to the current pace of change

Why pizza eating hackers may be your biggest threat…and opportunity

I was speaking at a conference earlier this week and opened my presentation with the warning that unless businesses started adapting to the rapid pace of change in communications and technology they will be left behind. Every industry will be affected. Those who think they’re immune are kidding themselves.

My presentation followed an economic update by a leading economist who didn’t paint a very rosy picture for the next few years. Whilst Australia has managed to remain relatively unscathed by economic chaos around the world up til now, this may be about to change. With Greece and the European Union on the brink and Australian personal debt at levels much higher than the rest of the world, consumer confidence has dried up. We’re not spending and the strain is beginning to show on the economy.

This will only increase the hunger for more cost effective ways for consumers to shop and for businesses to perform. It will hasten the move to more efficient technological solutions and out-sourcing of talent.

Look no further than this week’s announcement by Fairfax that they intend to move editorial production of their regional papers to New Zealand. A favourable exchange rate and modern technology make this possible and will save Fairfax millions in wages.

Its terrible news for local papers and the employees who will lose their jobs, but its also as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow. Ever since the Internet took away the “rivers of gold” that classified listing generated for newspapers the industry has been in decline. This was always going to happen eventually.

Its an era of change and no industry is immune.

In my presentation I showed a timeline of the big tech innovations of the last 15 years. These all contribute heavily to the way we now shop, consume media, research, conduct business and entertain ourselves:

  • Google – founded 1997
  • iTunes – launched 2001
  • Facebook – founded 2004
  • YouTube – launched 2005
  • Twitter – launched 2006
  • iPhone – launched 2007
  • 5 Free to Air TV Channels in 2009
  • 16 FTA channels today
  • Then there’s Google TV and Apple TV trying to break through

…and the National Broadband Network is now rolling out….

The last 15 years have been the tip of the iceberg, more radical change is coming and every industry will be affected.

Any business that isn’t looking to move their marketing from outbound to inbound, their IT from in-house to the cloud, reconsidering human resources, or radically revising their whole business model is crazy.

Don’t be surprised when some upstart comes along with a leaner, meaner business model to interrupt your industry. There are thousands on young punks with laptops, pizza and energy drinks currently plotting your downfall. Maybe you should be hiring them instead.

It has happened to the advertising and marketing industries. It happened in a big way in the music industry. It has happened to print media. Radio is in the firing line. Television is trying to adapt quickly. Look at the travel industry…its almost entirely online now.

I had a customer tell me this week that it won’t happen in his industry because the product is big and hard to ship and assemble plus personal service is still key. I disagree. Change is already well under way. In 10 years his industry will look totally different. Probably 5 years.

The pace of change is only going to increase and a tough economy will actually help those who adapt to leaner, more efficient models. Those people will emerge as the new market leaders whilst those who resisted change will be gone…or out on their feet.


Posted under Innovation

Written by Craig Wilson