Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

A difficult aspect of facing technological innovation is the decision to change your business model in ways that disrupts your current business. It’s not easy to leave the safe shores of what works and is known.

NiemanLab published this interesting article about the L.A. Times and its difficulties competing in the digital business once the advantage of physical distribution of newspaper that gave them market power disappeared. Among other things, the L.A. Times is late in the game. The New York Times launched its first try at digital subscriptions in 2011, eight years ago. The table below, extracted from the article, shows the results.

“In every era, traditional media channels will diminish, dismiss and ignore the new ones. They do this at the very same time that they are supplanted by the new ones. While they will occasionally spend some time or money testing a new medium, they rarely leap.1

An important exercise is to write down a list of the current technology trends, and consider how they could affect your business. The difficult part is not falling in a blind spot, dismissing things as ‘hyped’ or ’not serious’.

Take, for example, Artificial Intelligence (AI). If you follow some kind of business trends, you’ll read news every day of companies applying AI to some part of their operation. The insight here is that there are a small fraction that are actually applying advanced AI. But there is a significant number of companies that are going through ruthless automation of everything task-related, applying automation to every process possible. Call it ‘basic AI’ if you want. In a couple of years, thanks to their lower costs and operational efficiencies (and the insight they can get from their data), these companies will be in a significantly better poisition to compete than companies that are dismissing AI as just ‘hype’.

Hint: If you can’t identify a technology trend that could disrupt your current business model, you’re doing your analysis wrong.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash.

  1. cfr Seth Goding, The old media/new media chasm
artificial-inteligence disruption hype publishing trends

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