David “Skip” Prichard, gave a strong challenge to TOC attendees. We are in an amazing time of rapid change in the publishing industry, and the pace is accelerating. Broadband connections and content in the cloud have brought the world of information to our fingertips. Everything will eventually be wired to the network; location based services have begun; and personalized content will be taken to an entirely new level. For example, billboards with facial recognition capability have appeared, and biometric wristbands are now available. A new Ferrari that monitors brain activity and blood pressure to help control the car is under development. The University of Washington is researching contact lenses with a virtual reality overlay. It is obvious that change is here and is not a passing fad. Even the accepted form of the book has changed to the e-book, and the very definition of a book is changing–Wikipedia’s definition was updated within the last 10 days!
Any time an industry goes into flux, experts making predictions will appear. If you bet your company on a single prediction, you better be sure you are right! Who would have thought that the iPad would such a success and would even compete with laptop computers? Amazon is now selling 115 Kindlle books for every 100 printed books, and 1/3 of all iPad owners also have a Kindle. Territorial rights of industry players are now being questioned, and the entire book industry business model is changing. We must have a strategy or we will be like Columbus–he didn’t know where was, and when he got back he didn’t know where he had been. Your purpose is not to preserve your existing infrastructure. If something is not a key differenterator, you should consider whether it is not weighing you down and holding you back.
Our industry is in the middle of some of the biggest changes we have ever faced. Acceleration into the future requires new ways of innovation. Don’t let the company history get in the way. Make certain to change and adapt to the conditions of today.
Here are some considerations relevant today.
- When you experiment with new models, fail quickly. There is nothing worse than failing slowly.
- Change happens at the periphery–it is not always obvious to us.
- Skill sets are changing; talent is often hidden in your organization. Finding it and bringing it out is hard work.
- We need to adapt our organizations. Our industry has moved.
- Everything will not change–authors will still have status, curation will still have a role.
- The only thing that is certain is that we cannot stand still. We all need to be on the move.
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor