The world is changing… but this is not news. In fact, change is the only constant! As far back as 500 BC it was Buddha who said: “Everything changes, nothing remains without change”.
We, as humans, are very successful in adapting to change. But we fear it nonetheless as it’s warm and safe in our comfort zone. Change represents ‘The Big Unknown’ surrounded with feelings of fear and uncertainty. Change can be good, but we fear it might be bad.
Holding on and fighting change
Some choose to remain ignorant. Pretend as if change is not coming, then act surprised when it does. This is not only true on a personal level but happens to (big) companies as well. Remember Polaroid and Kodak who missed that consumers increasingly switched to using digital photo camera’s? Travel agencies that went bankrupt since people are increasingly booking their own holiday trips. Or the struggling company Research In Motion, producer of BlackBerry, that lost it’s market share to Apple and Android since these had so much more cool and handy apps to choose from in their app stores.
Others try to get rid of the new competition. They blame the newcomers that destroy the status quo on the market, take market share away and raise consumer expectations. Instead of adapting and rising up to the challenge they seek solutions by changing the law or tax rules. In the 17th century the English wore wool, linen or silk. Cotton wasn’t known until it entered the country through Indian connections. Immediately cotton got popular as it was light, soft, washable and could easily be dyed in all kind of beautiful colors. The wool and linen weavers were not amused and protested against this newcomer. They asked for protection and… succeeded. In 1700 an Act of Parliament was passed to prevent the importation of cotton. Strangely enough it became illegal to wear cotton. But people are clever and cotton was mixed with linen or wool to circumvent the law. Finally, this Calico Act was expunged in 1774.
Likewise, in 2009 in the Netherlands, traditional paper-based newspapers noticed a drop in subscribers and advertising revenue as more free news was published on the internet. Committee Brinkman’s proposed a plan to subsidize newspapers via a tax on internet access. However, there was no public interest in supporting an obsolete business model. Apparently the voice of the consumer was something like “We want to read the news as it appears rather than waiting another day for a paper that will end up in the junk just a few hours later”.
Below you find an open discussion on DebateGraph about the future of newspapers in the digital age.
You cannot stop change. Let’s look at a more recent example, again in the UK, to show that protectionism is of all times. As more and more consumers shop online the brick-and-mortar retailers are loosing market share. The way we shop is definitively changing and e-commerce is booming. One cannot stop that or make it illegal, so instead The British Retail Consortium asked for… a tax on online sales!
Embrace change as you cannot recreate the past
Protectionism at the expense of consumers is a bad idea. And it never works as change will find a way like water drops eventually dripping their way through a rock. Darwin’s survival of the fittest is not about who is the strongest, but about who’s best at adapting to change. You will survive if you’re one of the firsts to see change coming, understand what’s happening and adapt to it.
Maybe you can withhold change for some time but it’s not a viable long term strategy. It’s better to direct your energy (and budget) forwards. So, the only thing you can do as a business is to keep your eyes open, watch your market, analyze consumer behavior, innovate and… adapt. Don’t be the ostrich that buries their head in the sand or the frog that’s slowly boiled to death (both by the way are useful metaphors but not true).
How BuzzTalk helps
BuzzTalk enables business analysts to monitor the media (online, offline, social and soon even radio and TV). These huge amounts of data are tagged in various ways so you can monitor what’s happening without trying to read every single publication. Companies are often just monitoring their name in the media but it would be wise to also monitor your industry and competing industries.
Using BuzzTalk you can also create your own internal magazine and supply your management and other employees with relevant news. A business analyst can curate the news and enrich it with insights and context. This keeps everyone updated and on the same page which facilitates discussions, the formation of new ideas and business innovation.
You know change is coming – it always is – and it’s just a matter of what and when. Always be on the lookout!