What's the Difference Between Blockbuster and Amazon?

In 1976, a high school senior in New Jersey listened to his teacher, a mean in his early forties, explain the value of typing for college students. Thirty years later, that student’s daughter sat in the same classroom listening to the same teacher explain the intricacies of Microsoft Excel while writing code on the Smartboard.

How does this anecdote relate to smith & beta’s mission of continual professional development? That teacher 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 across industries are facing an ultimatum: either adapt your products and marketing strategies to new technology or risk closing your doors [think Blockbuster].

Why is this shift upending so many industries and major organizations?

According to smith & beta’s 2016 report, 62% of industry professionals say their clients are asking for more advanced digital work from them yet 43% of respondents acknowledged they are 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 often cannot catch up.

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.  

The teacher prided himself on acknowledging technological advances and his shifting shortcomings. To stay abreast with new technology, innovation, and mindsets he took classes to stay current; 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.” 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.  

Did you read these already?
2017 Greatest Hits

Welcome to the Greatest Hits 2017.Each year, at smith & beta, we publish our “greatest hits” for classes, workshops that we completed. This year, we noticed a preferential trend for content that focused on mindset development. No big surprise given how important mindsets, behaviors and habits are for learning in the workplace.

The Millennial Shift: Products vs. Experiences

Millennial spending is constantly under scrutiny. Major news outlets are reporting millennials spend too much money on dining out, traveling, eating avocado toast, and even prioritizing paying off student loans. Leaving the philosophical dilemma about what millennials should spend money on aside, what are millennials spending money on? Simply, young people are often paying for experience rather than products.

Brand Patriotism and the Fourth of July: The Politicizing of Holiday Campaigns

Holidays, like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Valentine's Day, are a marketer’s dream. With Winter Holiday spending in excess of $1 trillion dollars and Valentine's Day gift giving costs nearing $20 billion (including over $800 million spent on pets!), there is good reason behind holiday themed marketing. One holiday which is increasingly getting the attention of marketers and advertisers is the Fourth of July, during which consumers spend close to $7 billion annually (including over $1.4 billion on meat and another $1.5 billion on alcoholic drinks). Needless to say, when measured by spending habits, the country's patriotic spirit is thriving.

Attention Spans are [Fidget] Spinning out of Control

Every era is defined by a corresponding pop-culture fad. Beanie Babies in the 1990s, Livestrong bracelets in the mid 2000s, and Snuggies in the early 2010s. Today the fad is overwhelmingly fidget spinners. The fidget spinner, said to be one of the most profitable customizable products since the Koozie, has taken the children’s toy market by storm.