(This post was originally published on Sept 23, 2011 by Paid Content)
In the past two weeks…
Facebook has revamped its layout and then announced a “timeline” where your living history will be displayed. Just as you are adjusting to the new interface, another is coming.
Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) was simple and easy. One Brand. One Site. A few easy decisions one had to make on price. Now you have two brands, two sites, and multiple prices all conflated into a process built to enrage.
HP’s future was its tablet and new operating system and its core was personal computers. Sorry, never mind. And they just dumped the CEO.
The founder of a company it acquired took AOL (NYSE: AOL) hostage; Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) fired its CEO without a plan as if its board was in competition with HP’s for which board would win worst board of the year. Blackberry suddenly seems to be in free fall, Windows 8 was announced long before many of us have even got a look at Windows 7.
And a large portion of your smart phone’s applications need weekly updating but do remember that your phone itself will be outdated on October 4…
Just following and discussing all the changes takes more time than using any of the products and services that are announced.
And it’s going to get more hectic than ever as the half life of products, services and ideas seem to contract to a few weeks from a few months.
There are several reasons for this—from the acceleration that comes from a silicon based world, increased competition that is a result of digitization burning through the barriers between industries (Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) competes with Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Dell, Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Nintendo, Nikon…), network effects that scale first mover advantages, and the reality that continuous iteration is the best way to build products in a digital and connected world.
While this relentless, Darwinian and hasty path to the future is unstoppable and one we will have to get used to, there are some underlying realities that we will have to navigate around.
—The world might be digital but people are analog: Silicon based technologies continuously improve and are emotion free. Carbon-based life form’s (ie humans) ability to process and adjust is not scaling at the rate of digital change. This divide will be one that will be addressed by successful companies.
—The fast rate of change may slow the pace of adoption: Most organizations including content companies and consumer marketing companies tend to be conservative since they need to manage brands, profitability and long standing relationships. When things change so fast that it is like the weather in Chicago (“If you don’t like it, just wait an hour”), it gives people a reason not to make a decision.
So what is one to do since the world will not slow down?
—Build plans around people and not technology: Human needs and insights are the key. The world is not digital at its core but its people at its core. People among other things crave simplicity, value, connection and relevance. Do not build strategies around a particular device, platform or shiny toy. They will all end up in a musty attic somewhere.
Be as flexible, open and collaborative a firm or person that you can be: Since the only thing that will not change is change, try to ensure that you do not put all your eggs in one basket regardless of how solid that basket looks. Some years ago nobody went wrong betting on IBM. Then came Microsoft. They were a monopoly and out of nowhere there was Google. Now it is Facebook that is seen as unstoppable. This too shall pass—but your strategy, your firm and you will still be around if you are flexible in a twisting world.