It’s everywhere. I live in Silicon Valley where many say that the terms disrupt and disruption have become buzzwords. Pundits believe that the word is losing its promise and impact through the acts and examples of entrepreneurs and businesses that misuse the word to describe intentions rather than associating it with a desired or natural effect.
In some of the startup meetings I attend for example, digital disruption is actually a stated business objective. Instead of “killing it” or “crushing it” many businesses are aiming now to disrupt it!
We are indeed witnessing what can be best described as the end of business as usual. With the closure or dwindling performance of businesses once regarded as too big to fail or with the rise of every new Occupy-like movement around the world, we are reminded of the grand chasm that exists between consumer values and the values of today’s businesses. What is becoming painfully obvious is that people everywhere are calling for change and they’re taking to the streets and also their smartphones, tablets, and popular social networks to demand attention.
Today’s leading companies are already becoming obsolete. Fortunately or unfortunately, they won’t know until it’s too late. In 10 years, 40% of the Fortune 500 was replaced. Irrelevance is only accelerating. It’s Digital Darwinism out here. #AdaptorDie!
Ignorance is bliss, until it’s not.
Technology…social, mobile, real-time, it’s changing the world. Customers are evolving into something new. They’re more connected, empowered, and demanding.
We live in an era of what I refer to as Digital Darwinism, a time when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of many organizations to adapt.
Over the years, I’ve studied how disruptive technology affects consumer behavior and decision-making. I’ve also researched how businesses react (or don’t) to these changes. What I’ve learned is that barring a few exceptional instances of complete ignorance, organizations are open to adaptation if there’s indeed a case made for it and a path outlined to safely and cost-effectively navigate change.
The digital landscape continues to undergo a significant shift that will have profound effects on business this year. The challenge is that hardly any business leaders noticed. That’s not their fault however. Even through the impact of technology on business and consumer behavior was widely reported, in depth reports on what to do next or how this will affect their business specifically were scant at best.
In an era of Digital Darwinism, no business is too big to fail or too small to succeed…this is your time.
Many follow, but very few lead.
Many compete to survive, but few compete for relevance.
Do we listen to our customers? Do we truly understand them?
Do we create experiences or do we simply react?
The future of business comes down to one word…change.
This is a new era that redefines everything.
An era of empowered consumers and employees.
Will we fall to natural selection or will we rise to lead the revolution.
This is our time to make business relevant.
Because people, after all, are everything.
Think of your favorite brand, and the first thing to come to mind is likely a logo, such as the Coca-Cola scripting, a tag-line, such as Nike’s “Just do it,” or a jingle – remember the Oscar Meyer Wiener song? These may be the aspects of a brand you remember, but they are no longer the most important aspects of branding today. Identity, persona, essence and promise, are the new kings and queens of the branding kingdom, thanks to technology and the deeper connections it opens up between brands and consumers.
I am not a social media expert and my new book, The End of Business as Usual, is not about Social Media. If you’re looking for the Top 10 ways your business can succeed on Facebook or Twitter, secrets to attracting more followers or likes, creating viral videos, or the best practices for creating infographics that over simplify the complex world of business, save your money. There is no shortage of useful books and resources out there.
As I think about disruptive technology, it’s clear that as an industry, we often get stuck in conversations about products, services, and features. In social media for example, we are enamored with Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and the like. At the same time, we tend to confuse emerging with disruptive technologies and overly invest in rising stars such as Instagram, Quora and to some extent Google+ before we understand the impact they have on our world and the impact we can have within each network.
Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm focused on disruptive technology. A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. Solis is also globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. His new book, What's the Future of Business (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold and flourish in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. Prior to End of Business, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.