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How to Use Digital Tools to Change Any Industry

Do you want to kill an industry? Not really right? Most entrepeneurs or business development folks aren’t looking to wipe out entire industries. But if you listen to the media a lot of folks have tried to do just that. Steve Jobs killed the music industry when he introduced the iPod. Craig Newmark killed newspapers Read more

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Frictionless

Do you want to kill an industry? Not really right? Most entrepeneurs or business development folks aren’t looking to wipe out entire industries. But if you listen to the media a lot of folks have tried to do just that.

Steve Jobs killed the music industry when he introduced the iPod. Craig Newmark killed newspapers when Craig’s List eliminated the traditional classified ads business. The Kindle or the newly introduced Nook are going to kill book publishing. the list goes on and on.

But talk to Jobs or Craig Newmark or Jeff Bezos and they will tell you that they have no interest in blowing up industries. And, in fact, they haven’t. The traditional music industry model may be dead but there are literally thousands of new bands being achieving success through digital media and marketing. Some would argue that the music industry has never been stronger. Ditto journalism. The explosion of popularity in documentary filmmaking is just one example of this. And more books are produced than ever before (thanks to e-books, self publishing services like Lulu and the surge in authorship fostered by blog platforms, online reviews and other outlets for creative expression).

These new technologies aren’t killing industries, they’re transforming them. And the same principles can be applied to just about any other category. As everyone from Chris Anderson to Seth Godin has argued, the secret to success comes from eliminating friction. Let me download tunes from my laptop rather than buy CDs from a record store and watch my music consumption increase. Let me consume information from multiple outlets when and where I want (instead of being given a package with 90% irrelevant information at a fixed time of day) and I’ll read more. And let me have the ability to carry around a mix of novels, business books and instructional manuals in a convenient package that I haven’t even had to  search through a brick and mortar location to purchase and you can bet I’ll read more books.

Most big companies (and many small ones) have someone who’s in charge of overseeing the supply chain (some company’s even have entire committees to tackle this subject). I would argue that the main responsibility of these folks is to embrace the new tools available to them (most of them digital) and eliminate friction wherever possible. If they can relentlessly focus on this brief they will improve efficiency, profitability and create a sea change in the way their company does business.

They may even change an entire industry.

What’s your company doing to take advantage of the digital tools available to them? How can you improve efficiencies and become a “change agent” in your industry?

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