If you are in business at the moment you should be terrified because we're living through perhaps the most disruptive period in the last few decades. Not only is the world economy in the toilet, but business models are getting shredded, companies are coming under pressure and some are even folding because of the changing media and technological landscape.
First we saw social media changing consumer behavior and making companies more transparent and if that wasn't enough, along came mobile to really put the cat amongst the pigeons. It's an exciting time, but it is also worrying for many business because one wrong move and you could be toast. Companies that were flourishing only five years ago on a global level are now struggling to keep their head above water. These are companies who probably dismissed social as some sort of passing fad or who said: "Let's stick at what has worked for us before," which is a reasonable strategy under normal circumstances.
The problem is we're not living in normal times. How we all communicate has changed and the fact that we all walk around with a computer in our pockets has opened a whole new world. Business owners, CEOs and strategists need to be aware of the strange times we live in.
Everywhere we look there are examples of business models unravelling and big established companies being caught out. Traditional media is especially under pressure, and if there ever was a case that summed up the landscape at the moment, just look at Kodak. It was the company that built itself up with decades of hard work into a large international brand.
However, it came under pressure recently with the emergence of mobile smartphones and is now bankrupt. At the same time, a very similar product called Instagram was launching on smartphones and gained so much traction that it was sold for $1 billion in just 18 months.
Nokia and Blackberry were kings of the phone manufacturers only a few short years ago. Both are still selling a lot of phones, but it is hard to see a place for them in the future and many have speculate that both companies could fold, or be bought up soon. If you'd said that a couple of years ago, people would have thought you were mad, but that is the reality.
Their mistake was ignoring the emergence of the iPhone and thinking it would be just a small part of the market they dominated. You could argue that Samsung were the smart ones by mostly copying the iPhone, taking their fines, but now still having a seat at the table.
Newspaper revenue has been falling off a cliff for the last couple of years and you only have to look at the following chart to see how much trouble they're in at the moment. They face the problem of having to pay many highly qualified and expensive journalists while not being able to drive large amounts of online revenue. They've been trying to figure it out strategically for a couple of years with paywalls and the like, but they don't seem to be making much progress.
Even The Biggest Tech Companies Are Caught In The Crossfire
The power of change is such that even the biggest tech companies who are at the very cutting edge of this technology are getting caught out. These are the people with the access to the smartest minds in the world, but even they aren't immune to the sheer speed of change. Facebook saw hundreds of millions of people moving from their desktop services across to mobile and while it meant a massive increase in mobile users, it was eating into their revenues. It was smart enough to flip the whole company and take a mobile first approach and it is starting to pay off handsomely with a whole new $1 billion business appearing within two quarters
.Google had enough sharp minds to see what was coming and started betting big on Android a few years ago. Although it continues to dominate search in a massive way, you get the feeling that one wrong move on mobile and it could be in serious trouble in a market dominated by apps and with new technology like Siri emerging. Its huge bet on Google+ was aimed at taking on the emergence of Facebook itself as people spend way more time on the social network beyond Google's spiders.
What Does This Mean For You?
As you can see, the world is changing very quickly at the moment. You need to start thinking very strategically about your business rather than sticking your head in the sand and hoping that this whole mobile and social revolution will eventually pass. Some of the companies above did that and they are no longer around while others will vanish in the next couple of years. If you are the CEO of a company, you need to know that consumer habits are changing rapidly and because of this, your bottom line could be affected within a couple of quarters.
You can take the easy answer and just pay some lip service to new tech, or you can do what great business leaders and entrepreneurs do and take advantage of these great phases of disruption. Although it seems scary to many and there are many pitfalls, this could also be one of the best times to position your business so it's one step ahead of the competition.