What Did You Say Your Business Was?

By James M. Smith

Many businesses have come, flourished for a time and gone because they focused on force feeding the customer with products without a real understanding of the constantly changing needs and wants of the customer. The customer pain changes with time, sometimes because of technology, and businesses tend to ignore the changes, leading to the ultimate demise of entire industries.


A prime example is the railroad industry that did not pay attention to the arrival of the aircraft and failed to comprehend that their business was transportation, Another example is the newspaper business that failed to understand that with the coming of the web, news was much more available for reading in real time and the impatient customer no longer had to wait for the printed paper and the newspaper is now a dying breed. They failed to acknowledge that they were in the information business and not the business of selling advertisements.

Another entire industry area is again rapidly evolving and business owners are not comprehending the changes that are happening in the customer environment. Customers are now actively involved in the simultaneous creation of information and entertainment because of social networking. Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube are allowing the client to become involved in the concurrent production of news and to a great extent their own entertainment and now they are no longer forced to sit and stare at the TV screen drinking in whatever garbage is being doled out to them. Now they have a say in building their own entertainment by way of the social media sites.

The heyday of the Television super company is long over and unless they begin to understand the changing customer environment, they will soon disappear into the darkness of the failed conglomerates. The day of the publishing companies is long gone and books and magazines are evolving as we shift to digital production environments. The music industry is also being forced to change the publishing methodologies and CDs, DVDs and all of the hardware that is needed to play them are soon to vanish.

The global economy is now mostly based on information technology. Law and its practice along with contracts and the way they are negotiated and delivered needs to be modified. Health care needs to change in this electronic world and medical records will soon go totally digital and medical transcribers will become irrelevant. The job market will shrink because of disappearing jobs that are replaced by automation. The post office is becoming a phenomenon of the past and the postman soon won’t ring even once, following in the footsteps of the telegram delivery boys who vanished a long while ago. Lastly, the parcel post services will give way to “beaming up Scotty”

What Did You Say Your Business Was?

Jim Smith is the founder and managing partner of YCHANGE International LLC, a Portland, Oregon based management consultancy specializing in small to medium sized new businesses and also existing companies looking to expand or needing a turnaround strategy. For more small business advice please the blog at Small Business Marketing

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