The technology industries are normally disregarded by outsiders as a world of geeks, something to be left up, at most, to the CIOs, please-mister-technology-don’t-bother-me-with-your-big-bang-theories type of thinking. This shows both a terrible short-sightedness in this type of outsiders for not understanding the implications of technology in their own businesses, as well as a discouraging disability by the true insider geeks in explaining those implications.
Embracing technology is crucial for disrupted businesses to remain relevant. But it’s the knowledge of the end user consumption habits that is key. Instead of keep trying to build protecting walls around their businesses, legacy industries need to understand this. OTTs already have a huge advantage over those legacy businesses, because they have cared about building up that knowledge. See for example the partnership of Facebook with Datalogix in the US, or the buying of Bluefin Labs by Twitter. All this has happened while the later industries have been too busy crying and claiming more protection from the Governments. Wake up, and embrace the possibilities that technology offers to you! Yes, it will be painful, with even more layoffs and salary decreases, but this is much better than full disappearance. This is not really new, but as technology becomes ever more powerful (big data, analytics, cloud, etc), and as legacy businesses realise that it’s not just a matter of hiply making their Marketing departments digital and Social Media enabled, it won’t be long until these businesses realise they are in the wrong track.
Music was the first legacy industry to be disrupted. And it was disrupted because it was the first one, it was taken by surprise by a supposedly not much relevant newcomer (Apple). Film and TV promised a good ground for disruption and new user experiences. But incumbents became ever watchful, and sticked to their barriers of entry. No wonder that TV has been targeted by so many new players (like Apple, Google). But success has been very relative, and it has come mainly from legal holes (or should I just say leaks in the barriers of entry? I have always marvelled at the capacity of laws not to protect the citizen, but the existing monopolies). Like Aereo in the East coast of the US, that is rapidly spreading to other states. But slowly, trends such as Cord Cutting, or Social TV, etc, all user-driven, are changing the game.
One of the most promising legacy industries to be transformed is Education. Not because of MOOCs (I don’t think these are specially disruptive per se). Or because of any other standalone technology. But because of a combination of technologies, from digital texts, to enterprise social networks, to apps technology, cloud computing, … you name it. The social digital projectbook is how the new generation of students will learn, it’s the future of the textbook. And this does not just make reference to the digitised book, this, just by itself, is really not much more than a way to reduce costs on the publishers’ side. The opportunities in the education market are tremendous and transformative. The way content is used is changing, with e-textbooks and new textbook-type apps leading the way. Interactive charts and graphs, embedded audio and visual media including video, and real-time sharing and live discussions are among the many new ways students will interact with each other, their instructors, and even with their textbooks’ authors. In the future, kids of all ages will expect the content to be live, updateable, interactive and …. social! Textbooks will be replaced by socially-driven projects.
The problem with disruption in Education is, again, the existing barriers of entry. Education is a monopoly of the Governments. Governments make business out of it. If disruption happens, it will come first from those countries that are more liberal in their education webs. For example, a country that encourages teachers to write some of the textbooks, or a country that allows for home-based schooling, like the US, will likely be much more successful than others, where the Government maintains a firm grip, like Spain. But at the end, even in the case of the US, disruption in Education will come from the adoption by the end user, and from the strength of the subsequent demand.
The lesson that I drive out of this is, now that technology will hardly take more overprotected businesses by surprise, the disruption will increasingly come from the end user side. Indeed, innovation is not driven anymore by the industry incumbents. But disruption will not come either just from the technology players (or not anymore). Disruption is driven by the end user, who has become fully wary of the capabilities that technology offers to him / her, of the breaches that technology is cracking in the businesses’ walls. So as long as legacy businesses continue to blame technology for all their harm, instead of their lack of understanding of the end user, they will do wrong.