Change is inevitable. There is nothing that stays constant for ever. Things change, businesses change, markets evolve, customers move and to succeed in this continuously evolving world, you need to stick to only one constant, and that is change. Any entity, be it an individual, a group or a business needs to change with time to succeed. Businesses change and evolve in many ways, sometimes to lead a change in the industry and sometimes to adjust to the changing environment, sometimes using an experimentation approach and sometimes using a gradual approach, and at times even out of desperation to succeed.
One of the best examples of change, as described by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, is the change in the retail industry led by Kroger in the early 1970s. Kroger understood and managed radical change in the way Americans wanted to shop, and changed the way Kroger stores sold goods to the people by shutting down its small stores and opening superstores. Kroger understood what customers wanted and gradually went on to replace all its small grocery stores into big superstores. This exemplifies the importance of change very well because during the same time, other grocery chains like A&P did not feel the importance and need to change and suffered major losses loosing most of their market share.
Another way change occurs is when companies explore different ways to sell their products to the customers. An example that comes to mind for this type of change is the change and development in the software industry. With the advent of Internet and increasing penetration of broadband connections, more and more software companies are operating like service companies providing services to customers by hosting their software and letting customers access it through the web. The change is making the world of software better in many ways like reducing the cost of the products for the end customers, better manageability of the software at central locations and faster evolution of the software over time. With more people spending more time on the Internet, and increased budget of ad money spent online, another change that has been seen in the software industry is the way companies make money. The software companies can now subsidize their services which they provide to the end customers with the help of targeted advertisements alongside their services.
Yet another way change occurs is in the way products are developed and owned by the companies. More and more companies are moving to a more open model of development as compared to the closed model with strict ownership. One of the most clear evidence of this change is the change in the way Apple operates and develops on its platform. A traditionally closed company Apple, even after striking gold with its end to end controlled platform of iPod, now plans to open up to let third party developers and individuals develop software on their iPhone framework.
There are lots and lots of examples of how companies drove change or adapted to change to succeed in the industry. At the same time, there are equal number of examples of times when companies refused to change and suffered in the long run. The success of any business largely depends on how well it manages change and sooner they move in the right direction to implement change, stronger it builds the foundation for success.
Being in the real estate industry, I am seeing a great deal of debate on how the industry should change. Sellers and buyers are using the internet more to make decisions, and yet, most real estate professionals have not developed a strong presence in this medium from what I have observed. The real worry among some of my peers is the uncontrollable aspects of the web, but if they do not find ways to meet the consumer where he is, we have failed to provide him with the service he expects.
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