Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 4, 2010 1:54 PM

The Pending Digital Disruption

How many times a week do you hear someone say, "it's a shame what happened to the music industry?" or, "can you believe what the newspaper industry is going through?"

People say that (and we're not talking about stupid people here, but some very smart individuals) as if the industry they serve (or others) are impenetrable. There is not one industry that is not going to experience these tectonic shifts due to the digitization of our world. Social Media isn't going to save them. A Blog, being on Twitter or creating a ton of viral videos on YouTube is nothing more than a band-aid - some kind of next level engagement until we discover what the real future of Marketing holds for us all. No one is safe.

It is doomsday (well, not really).

Throughout history we have gone through dramatic shifts like this. Imagine what the industrial revolution looked like to the majority of business owners at the time. What do you think the advent of telecommunications, television and even the computer did to get people to think differently about how business will operate? We've been through this before and we'll be going through this time and time again in the pending decades. It's just the way that it is.

The way it is vs. the way it has always been.

Those that thrive (not merely survive) are the ones who are able to adapt, tweak and play with their business models. The ones that stick to their guns because, "that's the way it has always been" are the ones who either become extinct (more on that here: Digital Darwinism) or simply squeak by while making significant revenues (just not as much as they were making when they held some semblance of a monopoly). It's not going to stop with the newspapers, music and publishing world... it's going to keep on keeping on.

Here comes everybody.

If you read one thing this week, make it the latest post by Clay Shirky (author of the best-selling business book, Here Comes Everybody) titled, The Collapse of Complex Business Models (published April 1st, 2010). It's Shirky's always spot-on and very insightful thoughts about what is happening (and what may happen) to the TV industry. Like your industry, the TV industry is on the brink of even more disruption (some might argue that due to technologies like DVRs, that they're in the midst of it), and like your industry, the top executives are smart and asking the right questions.

That's where it starts.

There are enough smart people asking the tough questions, so if your industry has that, plus enough business owners with the patience and realistic perspectives to - at the very least - experiment, explore and tinker with new business models, there may still be hope (in fact, there is hope and a future).

But don't fool yourself, the pending digital disruption of your industry is coming too (if it's not already here).

By Mitch Joel