New technology has always destroyed old industries: witness the rise of the car sector and how this destroyed the carriage industry and most trades relating to horses.
But today the big difference is the much greater speed with which new technologies emerge causing destruction in their wake. The emergence of digital camera technology, for instance, has decimated the old camera industry and presents a massive restructuring challenge to the likes of Kodak. But even here a new technology, in which mobile phones may be able to offer digital photography of the same quality, could challenge this relatively new industry.
The same challenge has been launched against telecoms by the introduction of Voice over Internet Protocol (VOiP). Japan’s switching company NEC could have been hard hit by the advent of VOiP but it was smart enough to develop a business division developing products for this new industry.
At the same time, globalisation will make the individual's job prospects more uncertain and the best way for them to cope would be to take greater responsibility for their careers; there are opportunities but they will have to find them. Business leaders will need all the courage and vision they can muster to steer their organisations through the continual change required to adapt to the market conditions already described.
Finally, companies will need to find new, possibly untried, models of organisation to compete. They will have to make sure everything is geared to the customer and gives the customer greater control. They will also have to drop any nostalgia about being a national champion and adopt an utterly borderless, global philosophy. Thirdly, they will need to drive innovation via its systems, products and services, customer interface and managers and staff.
The adaptive organisation needs to be able to see what is coming around the corner and to respond in time, no matter where in the world the trend is taking place. "Without this ability to discern developments in their sector, companies are like blind people walking forward without a cane or any means of support, until they come to an obstacle that stops them abruptly."
Source: The Adaptive Corporation
European Business Forum, Issue 24, Spring 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza