There is a killer walking among us.
She is a shape-shifter that makes her way from group to group claiming new victims year after year despite the fact that she is easy to recognize. Very intelligent people struggle on how to deal with her and some even laugh in her face or pretend she isn't there while she cuts them a thousand times and watches them slowly bleed to death.
Her name is the market and as ominous as all of that sounds, it is an incredibly accurate description for how the changing market impacts businesses of all types and sizes.
The changing market is a constant threat to businesses and while some just ignore it, the reality is that if you don't change with the market or get ahead, you will enter into a cost cutting phase that will eventually result in the death of your business.
The best way to avoid being another victim of the market is through innovation. And I don't mean buying one of the many innovation tools on the market right now that solicits ideas from employees and gets people to rank them – that's not good enough! Those tools are great for small improvements but not enough to get you ahead of the market.
Innovation is about creating meaningfully unique products, services, and systems that someone is willing spend money on and are new to the world. In many cases, companies that are bleeding are using these tools and to no surprise it hasn't stopped the bleeding.
The market is currently making deep cuts in many companies around the world and unless they dedicate time and investment to driving innovation, they will be yet another victim. Black's Photography was the market's latest victim as the she gave birth to the cellphone, which eventually killed the camera store.
Let Black's Photography be an ominous reminder of how dangerous the market can be. Black's, however, won't be the last company the market will claim. Below are a few other companies that are currently in her crosshairs.
Amazon and digital are killing Indigo and HMV
I love bookstores and am a big fan of buying physical books that go on my bookshelf so I frequent Indigo quite often. Despite my affinity for the physical book and bookstores, I know that they won't be around forever unless Indigo makes an effort to reinvent itself.
If you go into an Indigo they are trying their best to generate new revenue and take some of the pressure off of their need to sell books to stay in business. They are now selling household items such as cheeseboards, vases, and pillows and are even selling technology such as Fitbit wristbands and scales.
But why are they selling those items? What are their long-term strategic goals? Is this building to certain point or are these just nice-to-have products that they thought would look good on the shelves and generate some short-term sales? I look to HMV as another organization in trouble that is doing something similar. While this might keep them afloat for a period of time, it's not going to get them ahead of the market and save their business. The market will claim both of them in time.
Podcasts, Songza, and iTunes are killing Sirius XM
When I first bought my car a number of years ago, I was given a free month of Sirius XM. I ended up buying the three-year package, which expired last year. While I enjoyed some of the channels, they were easily replaced.
Using a Bluetooth connection that goes from my phone to the car speakers, I have no need for Sirius XM as I enjoy music from a free music app called Songza. I get my talk radio from podcasts and for music I really love I download from iTunes.
Sirius XM recently sent me an email inviting me back with an 80% discount based off what I was paying before. I respectfully declined, not because I don't like the service, but because I don't need for it anymore. The service is no longer meaningfully unique and the market is slowing killing them. They will not be around for much longer if they don't pick up speed and get ahead of the market.
SaaS is killing custom development firms
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a way of distributing software where providers make their software available to companies over the internet using cloud-computing technology.
Before SaaS, a lot of companies would have their software custom built or customized from an off-the-shelf product and installed on their own servers or hosted by a provider. This has changed significantly with the birth of well-known SaaS companies such as Dropbox, Basecamp, GoToMeeting, and Salesforce.
There is no need for big multi-year projects that would fuel growth for these companies. Now with SaaS products readily available, the marketplace is turning to those lighter options instead of getting custom applications built.
Unless these companies make shift in how they build software, the market will obliterate these firms.
LegalZoom is killing the law firm
Typically when you needed to file a trademark, form a business, get a will, or submit corporate filings you needed to go to a lawyer to do those things. Not anymore. LegalZoom is a company that is empowering the consumer to do this all through their own website very easily and at a fraction of the cost.
While many managing directors, partners, and associates laugh in the face of these alternatives as competitors, they best bite their tongue as this is a trend that is just gaining momentum. The market just started to make cuts in the legal industry and will continue to make deeper ones if law firms don't attempt to get ahead of this curve.
Before it was just LegalZoom in the market, but now there are lots of companies working tirelessly finding innovative ways of taking market share away from traditional law firms.
While we won't see a big impact on law firms in the next one to three years, this will impact them in the next five to ten. Don't believe me? I know firsthand that software firms didn't think that SaaS was a threat ten years ago. Now look at how many software firms are being forced to make layoffs because the market is crushing them. Law will be no different.
The market needs to be respected as she has taken the lives of many companies that laughed in her face or just tried to ride out her wave of devastation. Everyone is a target and the only way to beat her is to stay ahead of her. If you are strategic and innovative enough to get ahead of her, you will have the opportunity to watch as she dismantles thousands of companies — many of them your competitors — who couldn't run fast enough to stay alive.
Ryan Caligiuri is an associate and innovation engineering practitioner with inVision Edge, an innovation and growth company focused on helping companies navigate through business challenges.
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