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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Analog Dollars Onto Digital Dimes : Challenging Transitions

I was in a meeting with a CIO in New York on Friday where he outlined the onslaught of disruptive innovation in his industry and the broad set of challenges faced therein. The magnitude of the change that his organization needed to face was mindboggling! Just before, I entered to join the meet in the lounge saw this very interesting interview over the television. Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC Universal, has succinctly captured what is going on in the media industry, with his widely quoted comment that the new digital business models are turning media revenues from analog dollars into digital dimes. As he puts it, the key problem for established media companies is thus to come up with new, innovative business models that will enable them to make money and survive as their industry accelerates the transition from a business model based mostly on analog dollars into one based mostly on digital dimes. The ongoing tussle on online advertising is yet another example of the pain transitions bring on.

What a difficult/interesting situation to be in : Lets see how typically leading enterprises face issues centered around disruptive models where the effects –positive if handled well can be far reaching and can turn disastrous when affected negatively. How do well run business handle the shift ? In my view, while it is tempting to look at acting all things material in a startup mode to tide over the situation – reality shows that this would be next to impossible to make it happen. Would-be innovators know that one of their biggest challenges is systematically identifying the innovations with the greatest likelihood of creating disruptive growth. Pick the wrong one, and squander a year or more of focus and investment. It is not by luck based on the draw anymore. By conducting a series of diagnostics, companies in any industry can quickly identify the most promising opportunities. By conducting customer, portfolio, and competitor diagnostics to pinpoint the highest-potential opportunities and the best business models for bringing them to market. Successful approach to make a positive spin around the disruption could be centered around figuring out how to leverage the new innovations to evolve its organization, culture and business models into the future. Too often solution points revolve around assessment and leverage of skills and capabilities of the enterprise in adapting to new changed realities. The challenge would be in figuring out how to leverage existing relationships and expand the adoption quotient across the enterprise ecosystem. A judicious assessment of what part of existing organization could be useful and what needs to ripped, replaced or retired need to be carried out in the most objective manner. Preparing leadership internally to get ready to manage the disruption is a prerequisite to succeed,

In reality, these seemingly ordinary questions/concerns may become the most tough one to crack, but no point in trying to avoid facing reality. In many cases, matter of fact cultural impediments may overshadow other set of concerns in managing the transition. There is no other way forward – except to properly manage the delicate balance between winning, excelling in its current operations, and quickly embracing disruptive innovations and lay a solid plan for growth.

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