The song was released three decades ago, but its message is still relevant today. Radio stars couldn’t keep up in the flashy world of television. Now, the medium threatened with possible extinction is the newspaper. We’ve been talking about the demise of print newspapers for a few years. A major article in the business section of the New York Times recently looks at the shrinking of the vaunted US publication The Washington Post.
The piece explains that the number of newsroom staff has dropped from more than a thousand to fewer than 640 people—with more layoffs pending. Major bureaus in various areas have closed. And at the end of the day (perhaps a tired cliché with the intensity of the 24-hour news cycle), the paper is faced with many competitors offering what they do…only doing it better.
At the Post, they’re trying to deal with the changing environment by innovating on the Web. Their challenge involves reinventing themselves, while staying true to the value and culture that made them a great newspaper. As an example, it’s harder to retain an online audience for a lengthy, in-depth look at a topic—while investigative journalism is one of their strong suits. It’s probably still too early to tell whether or not they will be successful…or disappear.
Reading this reminded me of a blog I read recently written by David Bergstein called “11 Things you Take for Granted Today that Technology will Kill within Six Years”. In his post he predicts that the following would all disappear:
- paperback books
- instruction manuals
- greeting cards
- card keys
- tollbooth agents
- credit cards
- check books
- retail coupons
That’s quite the list. While you may or may not agree with some or all of the items, I think it’s easy to see how many could be on the chopping block. Although, I’m not sure six years is the right time frame.
But the bottom line holds true. The pace of change is so quick and the impact of technology on our lives and our work is so dramatic that’s hard to imagine any business or industry that is not at risk of being transformed—or killed—in the short to medium future.
This has huge implications for all businesses performing business strategy development. It’s no longer enough to look at your customers and competitors when developing your business strategy. Now, it’s more important than ever to consider how your business fits in the larger business environment. That means keeping an eye on where the next category killer is going to come from. The radio stars probably never anticipated what television meant for them.