Tis’ the season for summation of the past and prediction of the future.
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, oodles of articles about what 2010 has been, and what 2011 will be, will litter magazines, twitter streams, and television programs across the nation. In 2010 experts weighed in on a variety of fascinating possibilities which included: Expanding location based services, user-interface advancements, a world of screens, and my personal favorite, Gink. Spend 2 minutes looking, and you’ll find no shortage of people asking and answering the question, “What’s Next?”.
It makes perfect sense that it’s a common topic of conversation.
Emerging technologies and applications have changed world of marketing, PR and communications for organizations dramatically in the past 5 years, and the next 5 will bring more of the same. So it is natural and responsible for organizational leaders to strive for understanding of the technologies and trends that will be affecting their world, right? I propose that there is a better way.
To ask “What’s Next” can be a helpful exercise, but only to a point.
The problem with this question is that even with unlimited research and wealth, the answers are varied, vague, skewed by trends, and are fundamentally reactive in nature.”What’s Next” is tied to the future of the broader marketplace, not to the future of your organization.
Even in perfect execution the answer to this question yields you nothing more than a first mover advantage, which is a good start, but needs competent execution to be tied back to revenue. There are only a handful of organizations positioned to benefit much by taking this high risk, limited reward approach.
Want better return on your time and energy? Try framing the convergence of technology and your business by asking the following 3 questions:
- What problem or objective haven’t I been able to solve or achieve?
- What technologies/communication media (old or new) could I employ in a fresh way that could help me?
- How can I implement this technology/communication strategy in a way that:
- fits my budget
- works in concert with current efforts
- leverages momentum to amplify results
- can be tested against established objectives
True innovators are those who take a fresh approach and pioneer a unique prescription to fulfill their organizations’ goals. They set the industry standard instead of following it. Their initiatives are custom built around their objectives and challenges, and always have clear ties to revenue.
It’s a subtle distinction but can make a big difference. Will you spend next quarter scouring the business journals and social media looking for articles about the next big thing, or will you enjoy being touted as the subject of that article?