The pace at which technology is changing and evolving is stunning, and continues to impact our world in big and new ways. Global marketplaces are evolving more rapidly and in bigger leaps than ever, and new products and services are being launched and swiftly consumed at an impressive rate in almost every industry.
For this reason, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to predict the future of customer needs and behavior. A continuous stream of new services and products aim to grab the attention of the markets, a tendency that is shaping new generations of business professionals and customers, with radically different expectations than generation X, for better or worse. As a consequence, yesterdays perceived customer needs sometimes seem to change rapidly and die a swift death on the alter of something new and better.
In many industries, this situation has created an intensified fear, or at least concern, of being unable to adapt businesses fast enough to these changes. In essence it is a fear of becoming out-dated or meaningless to the market and suffer the same fate as many other businesses that have faded away due to apathy - or what some refers to as a failure to adapt.
When looking into what is moving and shaking in a place like Silicon Valley, it is easily concluded that we are currently only perceiving the tip of the iceberg of whats to come. Things like augmented reality, machine learning and the Internet of Things are evolving fast and changing the markets yet again. Blockchain and automization of transactions is threatening the established financial institutions. Companies like Udacity are creating a whole new substitute to our decades old education system. Markets and technology are about to change even faster than ever.
There is no doubt that to stay ahead of the game, businesses need to consider their perception of rapid change and disruption of markets. Was Steve Jobs right when he concluded that "innovation is the only way to win"? The answer is, yes. Change will likely never be this slow again.
It is more and more evident that the ability to adapt and the ability to innovate at a sufficient pace are business capabilities that will determine who will succeed and who will be struggling in the future. To maintain a successful business approach, we need to consider these changes an opportunity to introduce new ways of working.
However, one cannot force innovation. Nor can a business just abandon clear strategic goals to attempt adaptation at random. To add to the challenge, the conventional way of organizing large organizations and execute large scale projects does not compliment rapid innovation and adaptation very well. And then there is the human factor, including the inherent resistance to change often residing in any generation older than millennials.
This is why businesses should approach innovation and digitalization carefully and dilligently, and ensure that these are perceived as Must-Win's and core elements in the corporate strategy. The difference between a great approach and a failed approach to innovation and digitalization could easily become the difference between a very succesfull future and a series of costly mistakes.