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By: Dick Taylor, CRMC/CDMC
There’s no doubt about it. We live in challenging times.
The big word of the day is “disruption.”
We read every day about how some new shiny toy is the latest radio “disruptor.”
But is that really what’s happening?
The radio broadcasting industry may be dealing with something bigger; dematurity. “Dematurity is what happens to an established industry when multiple companies adopt a host of small innovations in a relatively short period of time,” says John Sviokla. The term was coined back in the 1980s by Harvard Business School professors William Abernathy and Kim Clark.
Think about this phenomenon as it applies to radio.
The internet introduced the concept of streaming radio. Two companies introduced nationwide radio coverage from satellites above America. The smartphone provided an opportunity for Pandora to stream to cellphones. Podcasters followed. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and others would compete for a smartphone owner’s attention on these same devices. Meanwhile, on the home front, Amazon developed its Echo voice activated device, as Google, Microsoft, and Apple followed with their own smart speakers. Facebook, not to be left out, says it will introduce its own smart speaker this coming July.
Each move by these technology companies might have seemed trivial when announced, but when looked at in total, they represent a crescendo of mini-disruptions.
The Currency of People’s Time
While most will focus on the shiny new innovation, what we’re really seeing is how people spend the most valuable currency in their lives, their time.
For broadcasters, the challenge is providing people with a listening experience worth a person giving us their time.
Another factor that impacts business is government regulations. While radio broadcasting has been heavily regulated since the birth of commercial radio in the 1920s, we compete against online and satellite audio providers that are not.
Government regulations have enormous impact on the type of competition and the intensity it brings in your market.
Death & Taxes
Benjamin Franklin wrote in a 1789 letter that “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” In business, you probably can add dematurity. There is not a business that won’t be impacted by it, if it’s not already.
Ask the Right Questions
John Sviokla poses these questions for trying to get a handle on how to build value and sustain value:
- What makes for efficient scale?
- Who is the competition?
- Who are the customers?
- What do the customers want?
- Who owns what?
- Where is the risk?
Sviokla, in his book, The Self-Made Billionaire Effect, says more than 80 percent of the self-made billionaires he’s profiled made their money by reinvigorating a mature industry. “They either introduced a product tuned to new consumer habits, changed the technologies of production, adopted new ideas from another industry, adapted to new regulation, changed the distribution system, or made some combination of those moves,” says Sviokla.
While dematurity is inevitable for all businesses, brainstorming what change is happening, and making changes to take advantage of it, is the difference between crisis and opportunity.
“Change will lead to insight far more often than insight will lead to change.” -Milton H. Erickson
Reprinted by permission.
Dick Taylor has been “Radio Guy” all his life and is a former professor of broadcasting at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky and he’s currently seeking his next adventure. Dick shares his thoughts on radio and media frequently at https://dicktaylorblog.com.