Can You Predict the Future of Your Industry?

October 11, 2017

In 1964 someone said there would be no market for television.

“Television won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”

This was no other than… Daryl Zanuck, the co-founder of 20th Century Fox, one of the biggest producers of televised content.

Let me give you another example. 

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” 

Said Thomas Watson, president of IBM in 1943.

More recently, someone had hesitations about the first iPhone at its launch. 

“500 dollars? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard.”

This was Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft in 2007.

What can we conclude from these incidents?

  1. As a CEO or co-founder of a large company, if you sound confident, you can say whatever you like!
  2. But also that the future is very unpredictable, and increasingly more so. When it comes to technological innovations and digital transformation, not even those with access to information on industry knowledge and trends or current industry leaders can anticipate what is going to happen.

As the speed of change increases, unpredictability is becoming the norm rather than the exception. This game of trying to predict the future is getting old. It’s almost turning mystical, like looking into a crystal ball. It has become too risky for most companies to put all their bets on these unreasonable certainties.

Nowadays, with so many future possibilities, the only way for an organization to remain competitive is through a continuous desire to learn and a willingness to test things.

It no longer makes sense for a company to look inwards, to what is known and familiar, in search of innovation and transformation. Or even to focus on developing new solutions and technologies in-house. Most of the ideas that arise, probably have or are being developed by someone who more focused and specialized. Most of the time, these teams are startups looking for opportunities to collaborate and who dream of seeing their solutions used by customers.

Companies possess industry knowledge, resources, access to a large customer base, but they seek new ideas, the opportunity of testing and experimenting without too much risk and becoming agiler to be able to do this. That is exactly what startups have to offer. In turn, they are looking for industry knowledge, resources, and access to a large customer base. All things that corporates can offer.

If these two happen to have a profile on Tinder, I’d say it is a perfect match. But as you know, even for the perfect match, relationships are never easy!

This is why at Beta-i we have open innovation programs. We do what tinder does. We facilitate these “dates” between startups and corporates. Through our programs, clients can attract the most innovative ideas, from all over the world, technology-based startups, who are excited and ready to collaborate and adapt their solutions to your business reality. Our programs, which often happen at a global scale involve the entire organization and bring together diverse business areas to create interdisciplinary teams. This way we foster an environment for deep cultural transformation to occur in a natural way. And it really works! Our clients can prove it.

There’s one last statement, that I’d like to share with you.

“Neither Redbox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition.”

Can you guess who this was? You’re right, it was Jim Keyes, president of Blockbuster before it’s doom!

Had blockbuster collaborated with Netflix or Redbox, or other startups of the sort, they could now be one of the biggest providers of online entertainment content.

Don’t make the same mistakes that were made in the past. It’s time to collaborate with startups and not miss the opportunities of the future!

If you want to know more about our open innovation programs, have a look here!