I bet you are feeling the disruption due to technology advances either in your personal life or workplace? Am I correct? And I bet you are feeling overwhelmed at times by these disruptions? Yes? Trying to stay on top of the latest computer advances, technologies, medias, communication vehicles, apps, mobile devices, advances in tracking software, and online security issues is not easy to say the least.
Well, don't feel alone.
We are all feeling the impact here. But here is the deal...embrace these disruptions and adapt and become stronger as a result or as a business you will be out on the streets. These advances are not likely to slow down any time soon, guaranteed.
Two months ago I was invited to speak on the uses of social media and digital technologies at an AGTA (Airport Ground Transportation Association) conference being held in Clearwater Florida. And, I was honored to have been asked.
Listening to the 3 keynote speakers prior me going on stage, I heard fear and anger from the AGTA about Lyft and Uber who are infringing on cab and livery drivers turf at airports, hotels, and about town. I heard them talk about the poor quality of the Uber driver and how they are not licensed, or insured in some cases, or have criminal records. They went on for over an hour. I felt hatred, anger, confusion and many emotions pouring out of them that morning during the keynote. But you know what, I get it. They are being disrupted by technology. Just the latest victim due to technological advances. I totally get it. But talking badly about Uber or Lyft is not going to make it all go away. The consumer has spoken. And they love the ability to open an app, click and have a car at their door. And, in this day and age of social media, the consumer is in complete control. The tables have turned. So, when I got up to start my talk I told them not to feel alone. I told them they are not the only ones feeling the pains and sense of confusion. We all are, even us academics like myself. Yes, even academics.
In case you did not realize we academics are undergoing a major disruption in the University setting. MAJOR! In academia we are being disrupted by what we call MOOCS - Massive Open Online Courses. Courses that are being offered online for free and in some cases full semester courses. Khan Academy and Coursera are just two such web sites offering these courses from universities like Rutgers and Harvard. Many universities like mine do not know what to do. The way we deliver content to students is changing and changing quickly and if we do not adapt we will have no students to teach. It is that simple. I cannot tell you how many committees I am on right now dealing with this issue. But you know what, I love it. I, like many of my peers, are embracing the challenge and trying to figure out how we can make education more affordable, convenient and a better overall experience for the students all due to technological advances.
Brands too have and are feeling the pain. Because of social media, they have lost the ability to simply push out a message and expect us consumers to passively accept that message as fact. Now us consumers have the control. We can tell our friends what we think of the brand, their products and the type of customer support (good or poor) we receive. Brands have totally had to change the way they interact with us consumers as a result of social media all caused by advances in mobile technology. And, those brands that do not understand this simple fact, well, will be left out in the cold.
But two of the the biggest disruptions I can think of were (1) Naspter and (2) travel agencies.
Napster, although what they were doing was illegal, totally changed the way music was purchased and delivered and consumed. Probably one of the largest disruptions out there due to advances in technology.
And what about the once vibrant travel agency business model. Remember them? Or maybe you don't. In this case it was the adoption of the Internet alone that changed that business model and killed off travel agencies (except for those dealing with exotic vacations). Apps or mobile had nothing to do with this feat. Travelocity, Kayak and others killed the travel agency businesses. Wow, not that is a disruption.
So Mr Cab Driver we are all being disrupted. You are not alone. You (and all of us) have two choices. Either site back and fight it and lose or, embrace all that technology can bring and use it to our full advantage to build even a better business model. The later will be more fun and give much better odd of success. Guaranteed.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing, University of Missouri - St. Louis