What’s the Future of Business? Taking a Page From Brian Solis

Last week, we had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Brian Solis, a globally recognized digital thought leader, at the SoHo House in New York. The evening focused on conversations with some of his favored start-ups, (among which was the Montaj video app). The event was standing room only, with people crowding to get a glimpse of Adrian Grenier, who later presented two start-ups he has an active hand in, Wreck Room and Shft.com. What we found to be the most interesting and substantial information though, was found in Brian Solis’ new book, titled What’s the Future of Business. Paging through the book the next day, we couldn’t help but pay particular attention to the sections on innovation. Especially interesting is the statistic announced first by Babson College stating, “Over 40 percent of the companies that were at the the top of the Fortune 500 in 2000 were no longer there in 2010.” This is a startling statistic, underscored by the list of corporate casualties mentioned in the following page (which includes Blockbuster, Pontiac and Kodak). When it comes to business longevity, we tend to think about the brand image remaining relevant, and for good reason. We have previously published an article, Differentiating Your Brand in the Digital World, here on Fashion’s Collective, but what Solis underscores in his book is that businesses today should not, and cannot, operate from a position of complacency. Even after achieving high growth rates, soaring profitability, kind attention from the media, and strong brand loyalty, the problem is that most successful brands then rely on the formula that made them successful as the driver and catalyst for all operations going forward. While this may be a safe and proven approach, doing so without also keeping an eye on new practices can be detrimental. Ultimately, this narrowed focus is what allows a competitor to enter the market with an evolved or different approach and capture a piece of your audience. In short, complacency can be a business killer. The importance of innovation is not simply in looking toward product improvements or evolving the brand story. Innovation can also come from monitoring, recognizing and forecasting shifts in consumer behavior (and where potential pain points lie), as well as shifts in new business models. Take showrooming for example, which is both a trend in consumer behavior as well as a trend in new business models (see our recent interview with Warby Parker founder, Dave Gilboa). If the larger and more established luxury brands choose to rest on their laurels and close themselves off to this new shift, there will be a certain loss to the business by way of product sales and brand affinity. In addition, the shift in workplace environment these new business models create has the potential to capture the interest of top young talent, and as a result steering them away from established brands which can be seen as more “corporate” (now a term that carries a more negative connotation in the workforce). But, of course, innovation for the sake of innovation is not the answer, just as using the newest technology doesn’t automatically make you relevant. Rather, it is the companies that operate from a place of openness, ingenuity and savvy that carve out a place above and beyond the competition.
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