Whats the Difference Between Blockbuster and Amazon?

In 1976 a high school senior sat in a typing class at a small high school in New Jersey while his teacher, a man in his early forties, stood at the front of the room and explained the value of typing for college students. Fast forward thirty years, that student’s daughter sits in a computer class at the same high school.  Her teacher, a man in his early seventies, stands at the front of the room and explains the intricacies of Microsoft Excel while writing code on the Smartboard.  As I am sure you guessed, these two students were being taught by the same man; Mr. Van Sweden.   

How does this anecdote relate to smith & beta’s mission of continual professional development?  Mr. Van Sweden did something that few professionals in our industry are doing; he adapted with technology to stay relevant in his field.  

Computer science is not the only field in which professionals are being left in the dust by changing technology.  Today, brands that can not adapt their products and marketing strategies to new technology are closing their doors [think Blockbuster]. Why is this happening?  According to smith & beta’s 2016 report, 62% of industry professionals say their clients are asking for more advanced digital work from them and 43% of respondents said they were unprepared to provide more advanced work.  When a company does not have the knowledge and talent to give their customers what they expect in the current technological climate, they fall behind and ultimately can not survive.

Although some companies are adapting well to technological advances, few brands have been able to stand out by being innovative with technology. In 2014, Amazon released its “sleeper hit,” the Amazon Echo.  Initially, the invention of the Echo seemed to be a daunting task but by learning the technology and being innovative, Amazon was able to release the product.  

Companies can only create new digital products like the Pizza Tracker if they are knowledgeable about both the needs of their customers and digital technology.  Companies can only create new digital products like “Alexa” if they are knowledgeable about both the needs of their customers and digital technology.

The thought of your company becoming the next Blockbuster or Kodak is a bit unnerving for most.  What is the solution? How can your organization avoid becoming irrelevant due to technology? Education.  

Mr. Van Sweden spent his whole adult life taking classes and learning all he could to keep his job as a typing/computer teacher; your organization needs to do the same.  

smith & beta has a plethora of workshops designed to help organizations learn how to use new technology innovatively including our class “Technology Innovation: Possibility and Feasibility.”  In this workshop, taught by Scott Prindle (of Domino’s Pizza Tracker fame), focuses on techniques for rapidly assessing technical feasibility, timing, and costs and ensuring a steady-stream of innovative ideas, all rooted in the realities of client budgets and timelines.

Don’t try and be a company in 2017 trying to rent videos from a storefront.  

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