In my career I’ve had the good fortune of playing more than one side of the fence. I’ve operated a press. I’ve purchased printing as a customer when working at an advertising agency, and I’ve sold printing for heat-set web, and sheet-fed shops. Each change at the time came with its own drama, I was fired, laid-off, or resigned. The emotions were intense, but given enough time the emotions disappear. All is forgiven.
Here is an odd phenomena to contemplate, when you look forward at the beginning of your career you see the zig-zag steps you’ve taken as being out of control. When you look back, however, the career bumps and changes form a straight line. You are today the result of those learning experiences. Perspective alters perception. It’s a little like the nature of time. When you are young, time wears on forever. As you get older time speeds up.
Where am I going with all this philosophizing? Good question. I wasn’t sure myself until I got into to it. The printing communication arena is changing faster than we are ready for it to change. Technology is coming that will blow our minds. There are two ways we can deal with it. We can grip tight and cling to outmoded business models, or we can throw caution to the wind, and go for it. You know, the only thing to fear is…(fill in the blanks)________ _________. We do not need to fear technology, we just need to figure how to turn it to our advantage.
I found this online article that explains my point. Even though it was written in 2006, and the examples cited are old hat, the thinking behind the marketing innovations is what is important.
Performance: Technological advances must be part of strategic planning Published October 12, 2006
Business owners often ask about technology’s strategic role in a business. Most companies would say that technology is not core to their business, but would say technology is “strategic” to their business. In Jim Collins’ seminal book, “Good to Great,” he addresses the role of technology in great companies by saying great companies adopt technology differently. “In great companies, technology is an accelerator, not a creator, of momentum.”
Technology is an enabler for business, so much so that it can be at the core of disruptive business models that emerge when technology is innovatively applied. Here are some examples.
Technologies can impact business models
Consider the movie rental business. Remember your independent video rental stores in the 80s? They’re gone because Blockbuster took over with well-lit, well-stocked video stores blanketing every community. They are now being challenged by Netflix, which uses an online business model executed with technology and complex logistics. Netflix, for a flat monthly fee, allows you to have three rentals outstanding with no late fees, a much larger inventory than a local store and next day turnaround via mail.
Sensing a threat, which was both disruptive and technology-centered, Blockbuster responded with Blockbuster Online, which combines the NetFlix model, and four free local rentals per month at retail stores – something that is important if you are looking for the latest movie or want a spur-of-the-moment rental. Blockbuster’s strategy of tying the program back to local store visits can’t be matched by Netflix, assuming Blockbuster can execute the online program.
Think about digital photography’s impact on Kodak’s film business, the neighborhood film processor and Walgreens. Digital photograph technology has been causing massive disruption for more than a decade. With digital photography, you no longer create bad prints, you don’t buy film and it’s easy to share pictures with friends and family by posting them online. You can print at home or purchase prints online.
Kodak participates in this new model by creating and distributing EasyShare, an online picture portal that’s almost as inexpensive as printing at home. There’s no charge for using the software – they make money printing pictures on their paper.
And what about Walgreens (a “Good to Great” company, by the way)? How do they compete in digital photography? Walgreens created a software system similar to Kodak’s. And like Blockbuster, Walgreens leverages the value and same-day convenience of the local store. You don’t wait for the mail, you can pick up your high-quality prints (on Kodak paper) in one hour.
Phil Mydlach is the owner of Mydlach Management Advisors (mydlachmanage ment.com), a corporate planning and performance improvement practice in Waukesha. He can be reached at (262) 662-4646 or email@example.com.
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When you look at it with the right perspective you understand that the job of technology is to change things. Some ways of doing things will disappear and just as surely as I’m sitting at this keyboard some industry will go to Washington with its hand out begging to be saved. When they should have, and I’m talking now about GM (General Motors), led the technolgical wave. They had the electric car years ago and instead of running with the technology they crushed it. To see the video go to http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/223/#here. It’s an eye opener.