I remember when I started The Orchard with Richard Gottehrer back in 1997 (15 years ago!). We told people what was coming next. People didn’t ask for the information and they certainly didn’t like what we had to say. We told them during the height of the CD boom that it was all going to end and music would be digitized and delivered via computers and mobile devices. Most ignored us.
It took a lot of people a lot of time to digest and accept the changes. And once again we told them what was next. It was not simply good enough to have your music available digitally. You needed to understand how to market and sell in the digital world. This was the time just following the launch of iTunes.
Next came the era we are living in now. Data. Analytics. Understanding what is happening in real time and using that information to make informed decisions. No guess work. What is driving revenue? Where are the sales occurring? Who are the customers? What is the right offering?
So what is next? What should we look out for over the next five years? We need to be ready for what is coming and build our business around it. I think there are three critical changes that will shape the future of our business as deeply as moving from physical to digital was in the 90’s:
- Mobile: I hate to use this word because a lot of people get a picture in their heads about a mobile phone circa 2005. Don’t think phone. In developed countries smart phone penetration is surpassing 50%. In 5 years, all phones will be smart phones. The iPhone was introduced 5 years ago. Think about the phone you used 5 years ago and its capabilities (bad quality calls, text messages, primitive camera, ringtones, etc.). I bet you didn’t even imagine a fraction of the possibilities we have today. When you had your 2005 phone, did you see the consequences of a world full of apps? Now picture the power of mobile 5 years from now. Businesses need to prepare now because the shift to mobile will be even greater than the shift from CDs to MP3s or from magazines to social networks. It is far greater than a shift in consumption patterns. This is a paradigm shift.
- Automobiles: Five years from now cars will all be connected. Think about music and media consumption in the car. Think about the changes from AM to FM. The addition of cassette players, CD players and iPod jacks. That old dashboard is going to be tossed aside. Why would you need a radio or a CD player or an iPod jack? They won’t be included in new cars anymore. What will this mean for business when consumers have access to all the content on the Internet in their dashboard? How are you preparing?
- Television: They only make flat screen televisions. And they can all connect to the Internet. Wait until the realization sets in and people start plugging in. Programming as we know it is over. Everything you can get on normal TV can come via the Internet and everything else too. In HD! And the interface won’t be the old television remote control. The navigation will change completely. Envision navigating on a tablet. Have you set up your business to take advantage of this shift? It will happen in a blink of an eye. Do you remember the switch from video cassettes to DVD? One day we were all renting VHS/Beta and the next DVD. This is the same.
I don’t know which companies will be winners in the space. I don’t know which business models will dominate. But I do know these changes will impact the way we do business no differently than the Internet changed everything. You had a warning back then. I don’t know if you paid attention. But you shouldn’t ignore this. It is not going to be business as usual.