1. Thoughts from the Zeitgeist

Re|inventing the Industry

Do you ever see patterns in the universe that keep you awake at night? Here’s mine:

Uber vs. taxis…

Airbnb vs. world hoteliers…

Skype/WeChat vs. AT&T…

Alibaba/Amazon vs. Walmart…

FaceBook vs. traditional media…

Netflix vs. movie theater companies…

Cloud computing vs. hardware/software companies…

Who-or-what disruptor vs. experiential marketing, conventions and expos!


Across all industries, “disruptors” are reinventing what it means and what it takes to be a company. Today, the world’s largest taxi company doesn’t own a single vehicle… the largest accommodation provider owns no real estate… the largest handler of international phone calls owns no telco infrastructure… the world’s largest retailers have no inventory… the most popular media source doesn’t own its content… the world’s largest movie house owns no cinemas… and the world’s largest software companies don’t build computers or write applications.

It’s great fun, until it’s YOUR industry and YOUR company being disrupted. But to pretend the tsunami of change isn’t headed our way is naïve at best. After all, our industry serves every other industry on the planet. How can we not be affected when so many of our customers are facing transformational change?

A better question is, what can we do about it? We could whistle in the dark and hope for the best. We could lobby for protection from the government. Or perhaps… we could make a pre-emptive strike.

I was taught that the best defense is a strong offense. We need to be the disruptor. We need to challenge how we do things. We need to think about what our industry would look like if we started from scratch… even if it means starting from scratch. Because that’s what disrupters do. They aren’t invested in status quo. They don’t have inventory to write off. They just identify a market need and design a better way to meet it. They aren’t blinded by “what if.” They aren’t afraid of risk. They seize the moment.

I am not worried about traditional competitors as much as I worry about the unknown. It’s those nascent disruptors with a better idea who keep me up at night. The trick is, you can’t fight disruptors. You can only beat them to the punch. It’s time to reinvent ourselves.

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