Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don't just sit there, adapt!

I've been reading Leonard Fuld's book on conducting competitive assessments called, "The secret language of competitive intelligence". I'm not the biggest fan of the title, but the book is interesting and applies to what I'm doing right now to say the least. I started to think about an example he brought up on research houses, about how the internet drastically changed their industry. This leads to my curious thought/statement/whatever you want to call it: when you see other forces that begin to change your traditional model, that changes the way consumers interact with your services, don't fight it, learn it and see how you can work with it.

Learning how to adapt. I think of Fuld's quote, "gone were the days when online information pioneers, such as SDC ORBIT and Dialog, information aggregators, could act as critical (and sometimes sole-source) distribution centers...the dialogs of the world lost influence since publishers could sell their wares directly to consumers". How we adapt and how fast we adapt to these changes are incredibly important in determining the survival of your company.

How not to adapt to industry change. Don't think it will go away. Many of the worlds CD and DVD retailers such as HMV thought digital music transfers would, while Apple jumped on the opportunity to offer the digital HMV's of the world. Don't pay it lip service and then not act. In response to Sony's introduction of the first digital camera in 1984, Kodak amassed more than a 1000 digital patents. They even announced a 1.4 megapixel CCD chip in 1986, but failed to bring not only this announcement to the market, but failed to capitalize on any of their patents.

What you should consider when things change. Learn everything you can about it, gauge customer reaction to it, even go so far as prototyping the idea. Begin to think about what it could become. Going back to Fuld's book, and thinking about the online information pioneers, things didn't die, they evolved. Those research houses that adapted - that began to realize mass access to information didn't result in quality information, that people didn't have the time to search for everything and required information on their speciality, i.e. Forrester - not only survived, but began to gain greater market share.

It's interesting where a tangent can take you, and if you want to read a good book on conducting a competitive audit and analysis, I recommend Fuld's book.