Evolving your business trends… don’t slide down the curve

I apologize if I this article jumps a bit, but I will endeavor to tie it back together…

There is this great statement in the Harvard Business Review that details bullet points of my own thoughts around my eight year old son and an alarming problem in big business:

“When a 12-year-old can gather information faster, process it more efficiently, reference more diverse professionals, and get volunteer guidance from better sources than you can at work, how can you pretend to be competitive?..”

As business executives, the new tool of success will be the ability to adapt, evolve and overcome. As a road map of that mission statement, earlier today I had released a snapshot of a social media timeline I had been working on. It was the visualization of my idea to educate professionals in my network with an understanding of massive and constant evolution within nearly every marketplace.

Josh Bernoff from Groundswell brings up some interesting facts as we move into 2010, which are supported by statements made by Bill Gates in 2001 about this being “The Digital Decade.”

  • When the last decade began, there were 2.6 million broadband households in the US, one out of every 40 homes. Now there are 80 million, or two thirds of the population. Broadband has gone from rare to ubiquitous.
  • Starting from zero, digital video recorders reached 31 million homes and HDTV reached 51 million in this decade. Together with online video and video on-demand, these gadgets have completely transformed the television experience.
  • Mobile phones subscriptions are now 270 million, out of 307 million US adults residents.(For a comparison, mobile phones were in 51 million households at the start of the decade, but back then having more than one phone per household was unusual.) Back in 1999 phones were phones. Now they are iPhones, Blackberries, and Androids — computers and internet access devices.
  • Portable digital music players have reached 76% of all US households. At the start of the decade, they were in practically none, because the iPod had yet to be introduced. Mark Mulligan calls it “The Decade That Music Forgot”.

Audiences are shifting around and learning technology through necessity of being human. We have family, friends and children that bring in dozens of new tools and ideas on a weekly basis, a trend that can be seen by examining such events as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week where we saw the release of hundreds of new devices and technologies that could both go big or fall flat. We have start-up events like TechCrunch50 and DEMO that launch hundreds of previously unknown companies….

If we compare the number of new technologies and services coming out every single month and compound them against a hundred different industries, we begin to see carbon-copy clones of niche successes and business failures.

In understanding this trend, my own son showed me how to use his cell phone. This was a scary fact of reality, considering I worked eight years at Verizon and I am a gadget person at heart. I would never have thought myself to be the parent who was outsmarted by an eight year old with a tech gadget (ouch, I can feel my bruised self-esteem as a proud father…) As a technically savvy professional who is entrenched in learning the cutting edge realms of business… the core problem of information overload and a revolution caused by trending increases and educational pause is alarming.

To detail how this is affecting a singular niche, Josh makes some further points regarding how the marketing profession is falling behind:

  • 2009’s consumers spend 34% of their media time online.
  • As a result, digital marketing spending has gone from $6.2 billion in 1999 to $25.6 billion, or 12% of all marketing spending, in 2009.
  • But marketers still spend most of their energy and dollars on television, newspapers, and radio.

These are not rocket-science statistics. These are root-cause, fundamental issues for an entire industry that is failing to adapt. The same lack of adaptation could be highlighted in the travel industry, the newspaper business, or even multi-level marketing.

The answer? LEARN FASTER.

Think Outside the Box

If you don’t spend thirty minutes a day (or more) with your current daily routine, strive to educate yourself using the latest new tools and experiment in things you do not understand. In my professional world this is done by being involved with groups like Social Media Club or my consulting group. In your world you may need to turn towards tools like Alltop.com and industry groups to provide both tactical and strategic guidance for your future…