Innovate or Die

The old adage says that “the only constant is change," and that never has that been more true than in today’s fast-moving society. In business, historically, companies and profit models succeeded on a strategy that assumed dominant players with competitive advantage would continue to win. However, today’s successful companies are not built on a single theme. Instead, those that consistently look for new opportunities in their own or other industries are the ones succeeding. In other words, companies must continuously “innovate or die.” Remember MySpace? The social network was the first to be adopted widely by a global population, and sold to IAC for $580 million in 2006. However, owners failed to update the site’s functionality, or really innovate in any way (the site was static for nearly 6 years). On the other hand, Facebook has been criticized each time it undertakes a major overhaul, but the company continues to add users, went public in 2012, and recently has been showing quarterly performance improvements.

In music, Madonna has been widely heralded for reinventing herself numerous times over her 30 year career in order to remain relevant, and we have seen recorded music consumption patterns go from compact disc to piracy to digital downloads to streaming in the past 15 years. Now that the models have shifted substantially, visionaries are thinking about how we will listen to and interact with music in 2025. Companies (and artists) who continue to respond to consumers’ taste and provide better service with more features (i.e. constantly innovate) will be the winners.