Kiss The Old Ways Goodbye – Be Prepared To Change & Change Again

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The need for change and acceptance of the fact that your status quo for business may be no Longer has never been truer.  I have been speaking on the effect of the cloud (internet based service and supply) for the past 12 years and in the past two have provided much comment on the visible effects we had and are seeing. 

In recent years, unfortunately this has become a very visible truth to all concerned. We saw Kodak (a company I just watched in an old episode of TV’s Apprentice USA edition boasting of their size and brand strength) gone as a photography firm, devastated by the change in how we digest our photography. Consumerisation of mobile devices driving many to abandon the traditional camera to be done with their inbuilt ‘always with’ camera phones.  With this and the online storage and photo media tools such as Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube (and I could go on) how many of us today use film or pay for developing pictures?  We store and share them electronically, use digital photo frames, email them, print them on our own printers often as very high quality photo paper prints and at best for the retailer or E-tailor we upload and have them post us the prints. In the same arena, we have in the UK Jessops a 176 store chain of photographic jobs that in Jan 2013 called in the receivers (costing 1370 jobs until it was saved by a multi-millionaire), this following electrical store chain Comet (79 years in business) who in December 2012 did the same.  Two major recognised high street brands failing, coincidence right!?

Well no. Soon after we have seen in January 2013 two more high street brands with nationwide stores also failing and throwing in the towel.  HMV (His Masters Voice) a retail chain founded in 1921 (again rescued by disposing of other group assets) and Blockbuster video (closing its last 129 UK stores), darling of the VHS video era both becoming further victims to the change afoot in our buying habits and the delivery mechanisms available to us all. 

The Zeitgeist today is online and mobile accessible and this will only accelerate, do not ignore it.  Multi-channels and new ways of engaging with customers are here now, not something to put off or worry about later. The customer is king in their choice of buying medium and certainly is a more educated buyer from the wealth of information available at their fingertips, anytime from anywhere.

From an IT channel viewpoint this isn’t you right?  This is retail and you can do as you have always done.  Wrong Analysts and the channel press are already reporting losses in the IT channel and expectations are that a lot of it resellers are on the brink.  We have seen 2e2, a large reseller in the UK fold in early 2012 with losses of around 1,000 jobs (this after they bought out over the years Morse Group, Netstore and Compel to bolster their size) and Fujitsu and other big name IT firms continue to make big cuts as their traditional business models struggle. Futitsu cut 5,000 staff, HP has made multiple cuts including one of 30,000+ staff. Microsoft, Intel and other seemingly untouchable names have all made cuts (Microsoft’s was its 1st in its history and has gone on to do several more since).

Doing the same old same old won’t deliver those old margin retaining results we all enjoyed 15 years or more ago. In the technology sector this is not only about supply and demand competition from online stores for physical product, but much like comparing Netflix to blockbuster we are seeing many IT solutions fully moved to the cloud.  Meaning the actual customer no longer procures physical goods of hardware and software and no longer needs someone to plug it together and come out and maintain and upgrade it. 

Also, understand that the competition comes with a variety of new challengers from cloud only resellers who are nimbler, educated on the cloud and are built on the annuity and cloud billing model, through to MSP’s, ISP’s and telecoms providers who step wider from their previous supply chains to deliver an increasing number of billable services to clients.

The other challenging factor for any business being disrupted is that it is not only enough to change to address the current customer demands and new market competition. That is the now fix. To truly thrive you need to be capable of changing and changing again when/where required.

Take Netflix. Initially it started as a competitor to Blockbuster (who by the way had the chance to buy Netflix and didn’t early on!) by doing DVD’s through the post. It then moved to Online streaming of movies and now has expanded into full on Production of its own content to rival major TV stations. Amazon Lovefilm took exactly the same path, Changed and Changed again.

The disruption is only just starting with AI (Artificial Intelligence), Robotics, IOT (Internet of Things) lining up behind Cloud and Big Data to change the way we consume and do in both personal and business lives. Resistance as the movie says is futile!

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