In this Adapt or Die Digital World, Where Are You Headed?

A big tech meteor has crashed into the economic landscape and changed the business climate forever. Now is the time to decide if your business is going to go the way of the dinosaurs or evolve to survive in the new world order.  

Sound a little melodramatic? Perhaps. But if you work in any business, you know that the changes being brought by new technology and social media are rapidly transforming how we all do business. In my area, marketing and advertising, it’s really evident – you can evolve or drift off and die in the tar pits of irrelevance.  

Customers have more control these days. Gone are the days of keeping company secrets and just telling the public what you want them to hear, via controlled PR and marketing channels. Anyone can find out anything via digital channels these days. And now, with the rise of mobile, consumers always have that info at their fingertips. 

Digital Darwinism Threatens Traditional Practices Everywhere.

In his post, 2012: The Year for Digital Darwinism Brian Solis defines digital Darwinism as “a phenomenon when technology and society evolve faster than the ability to adapt” and says that applies to any industry. He goes on to say “this is a time when organizations will invest in change to better adapt to emerging market opportunities, to more successfully engage with customers, employees and stakeholders, rethink systems and processes, and ultimately, revive the company’s vision, mission and purpose. The result is an adaptive culture that signals and end to business as usual.”  

So, it’s adapt or die time for business. If you’ve been paying attention (and I assume, if you’re reading this, you have) then you already know that. Sure, some companies will be slower to evolve than others, but it’s the ones who adapt quickly who will be ahead of the curve and end up being tomorrow’s big winners. How do you make sure your company or your client’s company is one of the ones to come out on top? Solis listed ten different areas of transformation you need to look at. 

10 Trends for Transformation

In his article, the ten trends Solis lists are: leadership, vision, strategy, culture, people, innovation, influence, localization, intelligence and philanthropic capitalism. As I went through his post, highlighting key elements of each trend, I ended up highlighting almost everything in each section. It’s all good stuff and I suggest you read it all on his post. But, here are some key take-aways I gleaned from it all. 

First off, you need top down leadership buy-in to the fact that your organization needs to evolve. It can’t be the project managers pushing it through; it has to be a shift in culture with clear vision from the top. And when it comes to forming a strategy, you can’t just start spending money in new media channels without first knowing what your customers want or expect out them.  

To get good strategies, you need good strategists who understand the new media and technologies. The problem, as I addressed in an earlier post, is that there just aren’t enough experienced practitioners as there are needs for them. So, each company will need to find them, hire them or grow their own experts.  

Can You Recognize New Opportunities?

One of the problems Solis addresses in his innovation trend, is that “the ability to recognize new opportunities is perhaps the greatest challenge rivaled only by the ability to execute.” I’ve seen this in my own firm, in the early days when I was trying to change our core competencies to add these new services. It took awhile to get everyone on board and then awhile longer to change the personnel mix so we could execute it after everyone agreed to make the change. I’ve also seen it in clients. We’ve had companies come to us for social media services because “everybody’s doing it.” But they weren’t really ready to make the necessary changes that entails. Once we outlined all that they needed to do in order to really use social media effectively, they balked. In the end, they did not want to evolve; they only wanted to be able to say they had. Change is a scary thing. Some just aren’t ready for it. Wait too long though, and you’ll find it’s too late and your competition has already had you for lunch. 

So, what are you to do as a company facing evolution or extinction? I think Solis has outlined a pretty good road map here. In fact, I distributed it to everyone in our agency, even though I believe we’re already headed down the evolutionary path and are going the right way. There is a lot of good food for thought here. We may not see another upheaval like this in our lifetime. So, as the landscape keeps changing, isn’t it wise to carry the best roadmap you can find? I think Brian Solis has outlined a pretty good one here. What do you think? 

Graphic by Brian Solis