Forrester Research said it best, “the forces of digital revolution have reached critical mass…the digital revolution threatens every incumbent firm in every industry.” The only cure for disruption is innovation and transformation. And yet, according to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, 75% of business transformations fall short. If ever it felt like being between a rock and a hard place, it’s now. The irony is that one of the biggest causes of disruption, technology, is also one of the keys to transformation.
The other big factor producing an almost constant state of disruption is the change in the way people engage with brands and interact with each other. The popular wisdom is that this is the fault of the millennial generation. They don’t act like their parents. Well, that’s been true of every generation. But what is different this time is in concert with the advances of technology and the uncertainty of the economy, the age of sharing is replacing the age of coveting. Millennials don’t need to own their own car, they can rent a Zipcar. They’re quite happy subscribing to a service rather than outright being it.
What’s even funnier though is that millennials aren’t just limited to a specific age group, commonly 18-34 plus or minus. Millennials really are a state of mind. If you want to find out if you’re a millennial, check out a fun little quiz sponsored by the Pew Research Center, “How Millennial Are You?” I got one of the highest scores in our company and I was definitely born before the 1990s!
So what happens when you enable millennials with the constant introduction of new technology, you get disruption. How do you deal with it as a business? You have to transform yourself. Netflix did it when DVDs gave way to streaming. Blockbuster didn’t. Comcast constantly talks about transforming itself into a customer focused company, but they keep getting it wrong. And Amazon, while pioneering new ways to deliver great customer experiences, still has trouble turning a profit.
The simple answer is to transform the business to become truly customer centric. It’s not a marketing problem or a customer service issue, it requires a fundamental change to a company’s culture. It takes organizational, marketing and technology transformation to make it work.
To learn more and to see some specific steps you can take to start down the road to transformation, read my point of view paper, “How to Thrive in a World of Disruption.”