Missing a market shift is what causes most business failures. Businesses don’t fail because they’re inattentive to customers or because of poor execution. They fail because they either don’t recognize market shifts, or fail to take advantage of them. They fail because they don’t provide what customers need or value, and often spend too much time and money trying to optimize something their customers increasingly don’t care about. Survival is all about being relevant.
I’m going to go out a limb here and state, without hesitation, that 2012 will be the Year of Being Relevant in business. Not being relevant will mean failure.
Example: The Post Office. It’s really good at what it does, we just don’t need it. No more than we need a good horse shoe, or a small offset printing press. The Post Office is going headlong into irrelevancy, through no fault of its own.
Why? Because its mandate (approved by Congress) did not include services such as record retention (medical, income, taxation), automated bill payment, social security check administration, and expansion into new markets, which would require a change in charter. Since the charter for these services was not approved by Congress, the Post Office remains in the 20th Century. Not good.
Lucky for us, most private enterprises in the U.S. are not mandated by Congress. That’s not to say some businesses aren’t headed into irrelevancy because they’re just unable or unwilling to keep up with the forces of change that have been the hallmark of the 21st Century.
In 2012, businesses unwilling to change will be just as, or even more, irrelevant than our present postal system.
If Shamrock had continued to run its course as a forms management and print distribution company we’d probably be where the old-school print industry is today. According to an InfoTrends report printed less than a year ago in American Printer, “…the internet, a proliferation of mobile communication technologies as well as social networking, were cited as effective causes for the decline of commercial printers.” We saw the trend years ago, and knew we had to be more than what we started as, in order to be relevant to our customers.
The article in American Printer also said, “These technology applications and new media alternatives pose a threat to print, particularly regarding marketing communications, statements, bills, invoices, and other transactional documents.” We saw the trend, and responded by providing our customers with new technologies such as online bill pay, digitized and on-demand printing, data and inventory management, and e-commerce solutions to help our customers, so they could help their customers.