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Monday, April 26, 2010

Crossing the Re-invention Gap - Newspapers

by Adam Hartung

Crossing the Re-invention Gap - NewspapersIs news dying, or are newspapers dying? That's a critical question. Most of us know the demand for news is not dying - and if you needed reinforcement a recent McKinsey & Company study verified that the demand for news has increased (McKinsey Quarterly "A Glimmer of Hope for Newspapers"). And a lot of the increase comes from people under 35 who are escalating their news demands. Of course, most of this increase is coming from the web and mobile media.

Too often, however, we don't see our business growing. Instead, Lock-in to old definitions make us think our business is shrinking when it is actually doing the opposite! And that's the Re-invention Gap. Manufacturers of small printing presses said demand was declining in the 1970s, when in fact demand for copies was exploding. Only the explosion was from xerography instead of presses. So A.B. Dick and Multigraphics, small offset press manufacturers, went out of business when demand for the output of their product was exploding! The market shifted, but it kept growing, and they missed the shift.

Today we see this behavior in most news publishers. Those who print newspapers and magazines are talking about how horrible business is. Only the demand for news is growing more quickly than ever. It's just not demand for print, which arrives too late for many customers. And because print is too slow a distribution method for these customers, advertisers are abandoning print as well. But only if you're Locked-in to printing do you say the market is horrible. Because with demand for news growing, if you reposition yourself to serve the growing part of the market you should say business is great!

Tribune Corporation, owner of The Chicago Tribune newspaper is still in bankruptcy. And its future relies entirely on how well it will serve the needs of on-line news readers. According to Crain's Chicago Business, in "Former Sports Editor Bill Adee Steers Chicago Tribune's On-line Strategy" print advertising revenues fell by 9% versus last year in the most recent quarter. And according to a quoted investment banker, nobody would have much interest in the value of a print newspaper. That business is destined to keep declining.

But simultaneously the volume of on-line ads tripled! And that's what a business has to do to cross its Re-invention Gap. It has to move from the old business into the new business - from the declining elements of its business into the growth elements.

What most businesses do wrong is try to apply their old business model to the new business. The old Success Formula has Lock-ins to metrics, schedules, processes, frequent decisions, decision-makers, strategic plans, etc. which the leadership tries to apply to the new business. For example, most newspapers are used to selling ads for several thousand dollars, based upon the number of subscribers. These are pretty large price points. But on-line, ads are sold per page view or per click. Now we're talking pennies sometimes. And to make money, you have to get a lot of views. Likewise, newspapers work on a 24 hour cycle of news accumulation and publishing, whereas the internet is 24x7 with the opportunity to change headlines and what's reported continuously. If a newspaper tries to apply the old Success Formulas related to sales, pricing and editorial process they fail.

And that's why crossing the re-invention gap requires a big Disruption. You have to get the organization to understand that while you are managing the old business, it is destined to eventually go under. So you have to be prepared to Disrupt the Lock-ins, to discover a new way to do the business. And that can only happen if there is a White Space team dedicated to building a business the way the new marketplace will pay for it. Totally separated from the old business. And exactly the opposite of what Tribune is doing by placing the team in the middle of the old newsroom!

At Tribune, one of the big problems is not only the ad pricing model and news scheduling, but the fact that the leadership is still trying to drive content like they did at the newspaper. Over a decade ago Tribune took a direction of accumulating less news on its own, and as a result it republished lots of content. But now on the internet republishing (or content aggregation as it is called on-line) is far less valuable because readers can go to the source. There are thousands and thousands of aggregators - making competition intense and profits negligible. Why page view a Chicago Tribune web page that's feeding info from the New York Times or Marketwatch or MSNBC when you can go directly to the New York Times or Marketwatch or MSNBC and get it yourself - possibly with other interesting sidebars? Succeeding in the new market requires developing an entirely new Success Formula - which Tribune Company has not done. It's still trying to find that magical "leverage" which will allow it to preserve its "history" (its old Success Formula) while tiptoeing into the new marketplace.

I don't know any newspaper or magazine publisher that has really attacked its Lock-ins, really Disrupted, or set up a true White Space team to explore how to make money in the growing new news market. News Corp. had the chance when it bought MySpace.com, but failed as it destroyed the MySpace business by "helping" its leadership. This market requires understanding how to get the news and report it cheaply and very fast, to computer and mobile device users. That is necessary to obtain the traffic which would be valuable to advertisers. And simultaneously the new team must package ad sales so as to maximize revenues from page views. Most are far too reliant on single ad sales, and not effectively linking the right ads to the right pages to generate more click-throughs as well as views.


The Re-invention Gap
Re-invention Gaps emerge because we let Lock-in blind us to growth opportunities. We define the business around the Lock-ins (such as printing a newspaper) rather than defining it around what the market wants (news). Then when revenues stumble, starting a growth stall, the energy goes into preserving the old Success Formula (and its Lock-ins) first with cost cuts, and later with efforts to "synergize" or "leverage" the old Success Formula into the new market. And this never works. The growing part of the market is entirely different, and requires developing an entirely new Success Formula. That's why even in growing markets businesses fail, unless they commit to Disrupting the Lock-in and using White Space to move back into the growth Rapids.


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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Microsoft in the Soup

Harvard Business Review getting it wrong!


by Adam Hartung

More Microsoft in the SoupTwo readings recently have really surprised me.

First, Dawn Beaupariant from the public relations firm Waggener Edstrom contacted me regarding my Forbes column. I learned this firm is the PR agency for Microsoft. They took exception to my Forbes column ("Microsoft's Dismal Future"). But not because any facts were inaccurate.

Rather, it was their point of view that because OS 7 is now the largest selling OS of all time that demonstrated it was a successful product. Of course, when the television standard was changed in the USA to digital and everyone had to transition set-top boxes those also became big sellers. But it wasn't because everybody wanted the new product. More, it was the impact of a monopolist. We all know Microsoft has had a near monopoly in PC operating systems (even though every year it is losing share to Linux), so the fact that they can force people to use a new one on new machines, or upgrade, is less than an enthusiastic market endorsement of the product. For every "reviewer" who likes OS 7, there are 100 users saying "this gives me bells and whistles I don't need or want, and complicates my life. Can I simply keep my old product, or do my work on my smartphone?"

The Forbes column didn't debate whether Microsoft was likely to remain dominant in PC operating systems - that is a foregone conclusion. The issue is that markets are shifting away from PCs to mobile devices. And Microsoft has lost 2/3 its market share in mobile operating systems. And it is not developing a strong product. If people keep shifting from PCs to Blackberry's, iPhones and Androids - and PC sales start declining - in 10 years Microsoft could dominate PC OS sales (and Office applications) but it may not matter. Too bad the PR firm didn't get that.

Secondly, the PR firm claimed that Microsoft could put forward new products readily, leading to capturing dominant share in new markets. Their one claim that Microsoft had accomplished this was xBox. The PR person conveniently ignored the smartphone market, the Zune-style handheld market, the market for mobile applications (where Apple sold 2billion apps in its first 18 months), the search market (where Microsoft lags Google and would be nowhere without picking up Yahoo!'s declining business) and a host of other markets where Microsoft simply let the horse out of the barn.

To make matters worse, as Microsoft has invested to Defend the PC operating system and office products business, xBox is losing market share (exactly the point I made in the article - using the smartphone example instead)! According to IndustryGamers.com "PS3 'Steadily Increasing' Market Share Across the Globe" (Feb, 2010). Bad pick Dawn!
  • The PS3 is dominant in Japan and Korea, and as of June 2008, has begun to outsell the Xbox 360 in Europe. It is also steadily increasing its market share in all other regions across the globe, including in the North American market
  • PS3 sales have been surging (44% over the holidays) and SCEA senior vice president of Marketing and PlayStation Network, Peter Dille, recently insisted that PS3 will eventually overtake Xbox 360

Most commenters have reflected my viewpoint, saying that they see Microsoft so horribly locked-in to its old business that it is almost GM-like in its approach to new products and markets. Not a good sign. Those who defend Microsoft simply take the point of view that Microsoft is huge, has high share in PCs, and is very profitable in OS and Office Product sales. Wow, just like people defended GM was in the 1970s comparing to offshore competitors! These defenders completely miss the point that the marketplace is now rapidly shifting to new solutions, and the companies driving that shift with the most product are Apple, Google and Research in Motion (RIM)! Microsoft may look like Goliath, but it would be foolish to ignore the slings of new technology being brought to the battle by these David's with their smartphones, Chrome OS, mail products, etc.

I was struck this week at the backward thinking offered on the Harvard Business Review blog posting "Is This Innovation Too Disruptive for My Firm." The author justifies companies sticking to their defensive positions, just as Microsoft is doing, simply because most companies fail at moving away from their "core." He seems very content to offer that since most companies can't really move into new markets well, so they might as well not try. Exactly what they are supposed to do as revenues dwindle in their "core" markets he never resolves! I guess he'd rather management simply not try to grow, and go down valiantly with the sinking ship.

Quite concerning is that he takes up the mantle of "core capability." He points out that most of the failures happen when companies move away from their "core" and therefore he recommends that all innovation remain close to the "core." His big argument is that this is lower risk. Well, Xerox remained close to core with laser printers - and how'd that work out for long-term value growth? Apple remained close to its Macintosh core and was almost bankrupt in 2000 before jumping into music and smartphones. Polaraoid stayed close to its core of instant film photography, and Kodak stayed close to its similar core. Now one is erased from the marketplace and the other is a no-growth inconsequential competitor.

Analogies are risky, but here goes. For the HBR author, his arguement isn't a lot different than "Over the last 200 years we've noticed that ships which sail out past the horizon often never return. Therefore, we recommend you never sail beyond the horizon. Clearly, this is risky and returns are uncertain - so don't do it. Ever. Very likely, there is nothing out there you will ever capture of value." Sort of sounds like those who wouldn't back Columbus - good thing he finally convinced Queen Isabella to give him three ships.

In 2008 and 2009 we've seen many great companies driven to bad returns. Layoffs abound. Growth has disappeared. Listen to HBR, and behave like Microsoft, and you'll never grow again. In 2010 we need a different approach - a different solution. Companies must realize that focusing on "core" capabilities, customers and markets has rapidly diminishing returns these days. You cannot succeed by focusing on defending your business - even if it is a near-monopoly like PC operating systems! Why not? Because markets rapidly shift to new solutions that obsolete your products and even when you have high share, and high margins, sales can disappear really fast (like Xerox machine sales or amateur film sales - and probably laptop sales). If you aren't putting a big chunk of resources into GROWING in new marketplaces, by using White Space teams to drive that learning and growth, you will eventually become a historical artifact.


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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What You Don't Know Can Kill You - Facebook, Twitter, iPad, Kindle

by Adam Hartung

What You Don't Know Can Kill You - Facebook, Twitter, iPad, KindleNancy Munro of Knowledgeshift.com posted a great blog "Technology was Blago's Enemy Again." Although many people watch The Apprentice, I'm not one. Apparently the former governor of Illinois was a contestant, and when he was challenged to lead a project team his lack of technology skills got in the way of effectively doing the job. Although he's a smart lawyer and politician, his tool set had become outdated. A competitive team leader who was very good at texting and other state-of-the-art technologies was able to best Governor Blagojevich's team, and the ex-governor was "fired" by Donald Trump from the show.

On the surface, this is a funny story. But Nancy points out how it reflects the very real issues of using technology when competing. All businesses compete every day. Those that learn to use new technologies are able to get more done, faster and more effectively. Those who fall into a routine of doing things the same way, and don't advance their tool set, run the risk of being knocked out of the competition. Mr. Blagojevich's inability to use modern technology killed his chances of winning the competition.

Will you, or your business, go to any trade shows or conferences this year? Probably. But you'll limit attendance because you're still worried about financial performance. How will you select where you go? Probably by attending the ones most closely associated with your industry or business. But think about it, are those the ones that will be most valuabl? You'll probably mostly hear what you already know, and reinforce your existing beliefs about the business. Is that really an effective spend?

Instead, shouldn't you use the funds to learn about what you don't know? Like how to be a world-class social marketer? This is an amazingly fast growing area where early adopters are gaining new sales. For example, Guy Kawasaki and the world's leaders in social marketing will be talking about how to get sales and profits from Twitter and Facebook at something called "The Smartbrief Social Media Success Summit." I'm not a shill for the conference (I'm not even speaking there), but this kind of event offers the very real opportunity of learning something you don't know - rather than reinforcing old Lock-ins and keeping you doing what you've always done.

Have you purchased a Kindle or iPad yet? If not, how do you know what they can or can't do? At SeekingAlpha.com "Thoughts on the iPad" offers one person's reflection on what the iPad does well, and doesn't, and where it might evolve - as well as how it compares to the Kindle. These devices are selling in the millions - so are you and your business thinking about how to use one to help sell more products or make more money? Yahoo and Google are both launching ad models for iPad (see Mediapost.com "Yahoo Readies Launch of Online Advertising Model"). Are you considering using this media to reach new customers? Have you considered how one of these products embedded in what you sell might offer you a competitive advantage? If you and your colleagues haven't tried one, experimented, how would you know?

Our businesses rarely get into trouble from something we know well. It's what we don't know, what we ignore, that gets us in trouble. Like Craigslist.com wiping out newspaper classified ads. The newspapers didn't even see it coming. On the other hand, if they had investigated and used Craigslist they could have prepared, and maybe even developed a competitive on-line product to grow new revenues!

It's incumbent upon us to constantly expand into new markets. We have to constantly keep White Space alive where we use resources to experiment in areas outside traditional permission. It's easy to keep throwing all our resources into what we know, but in the end, it's what we don't know that will knock us out of the game - like poor Blago.


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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Managing Live or Die Market Transitions

by Adam Hartung

Managing Live or Die Market TransitionsRecently SeekingAlpha.com ran the article "Time for Tivo to say Ta Ta." The author (a professor) took the point of view that Tivo had filled a need, but now there were ample new options - such as on-line downloads - making Tivo obsolete. As a result, the company should fold up its tent and let the employees move on.

I was struck, because the good professor did not seem to think it might be possible for Tivo to change its business model and move into the other growing opportunities while simultaneously maintaining the traditional Tivo set-top business until the market figures out what customers really want. That sort of predicting future markets is dangerous for 2 reasons:
  1. the inherent assumption that Tivo can be in only one market is flawed. There is nothing stopping Tivo from participating in the marketplace robustly with mutliple solution offerings. It can even cannibalize its own "base" revenues if the market shifts into other solutions. Tivo could remain top of the market - regardless of what solution dominates

  2. predicting future markets is a fools game. The good professor may guess some of these futurist positions right, but he's sure to get many wrong. Any business that bets its product development or investments on future predictions is destined to eventually get it wrong - and possibly destroy itself. Good leaders use scenarios to realize there are multiple possibilities, and then participate in several of them in order to be assured of growth.

Fast Company points out in "Avoiding Corporate Death Spirals in a Sea of Change" that all companies hoping to remain long-lived MUST learn to transition with shifting markets. The article parallels this blog in discussing failures at Blockbuster Video, Silicon Graphics, Digital Equipment - and more recently dramatic share declines in Palm. All are attributed to management Lock-in on early wins, then trying to Defend & Extend the early Success Formula too long. Market transitions killed them. The article goes on to point out that Cisco Systems, a company held up as an example of Phoenix Principle Management here, has succeeded and grown principally because it has learned how to adjust to market shifts.

No company needs to give up. But all companies that want to survive HAVE to learn to manage market transitions. There is no other choice. Shift happens.




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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pitching versus Listening - GM and Segway

by Adam Hartung

Pitching versus Listening - GM and SegwayGeneral Motors and Segway have teamed up to do a new product launch. The new product is described at Freep.com in "GM, Partner to unveil 2-seater" and is called the EN-V. And there's almost no hope it will succeed. Too bad, because both companies desperately need a winner. But the process they used to develop and launch this product was all wrong - and it would be a miracle if the arrow hits a bulls-eye.

Segway is the long-running story of a company with what looks like a great idea, but it never takes off. The original Segway seemed really neat. But people struggled to figure out why they would buy one. There is walking, there are bicycles, there are motorcycles and there are cars. Segway never defined who was under-served, or unserved, and therefore had a real need to use their new product. Segway management did a great job of public relations, because we all saw them on TV, in the news, and learned the name. But the product was developed internally, not in response to a market need. As a result, sales never materialized and Segway slipped into the business history file as another case study.

General Motors has no new product development process to create products for the future. For decades GM has attempted to defend and extend its 1940's approach of designing updated products, and hoping people will keep buying. It's been many years since GM launched a new product that people said "wow, that's just what I needed - and I wasn't even aware I needed that."

Now the two companies have teamed up to launch a 2 passenger Segway. They have identified the use they think this fits, and they think they know a target. But the problem is that this is just another "idea" designed and built without significant market input. Instead of developing a scenario of the future with deep insight to what people will want, and then making that product, they have said "wouldn't this be neat - and can't we imagine who might buy?" Interesting lab work, but unless they are very, very lucky the odds are greatest that people will think it's cute, but won't buy. After all, with the plethora of current solutions across a huge price range from many competitors means nobody is living without transportation. Why should potential customers inherently think this is a good idea?

Phoenix companies don't design products from inside the company outward. Instead, they use market input to discover the unmet needs, and they fulfill them. Especially when it's clear that competitors aren't jumping in to fulfill the need. They intend to Disrupt the marketplace not by some splashy introduction and hoping people will switch, but rather by identifying the under-served customers and giving them a solution they didn't have. Then the company learns, adapts and keeps pushing toward an ideal product that meets ever more needs. From this initial small success the market grows.

Segway never understood this. They don't define unmet needs, nor competitor inabilities - and thus they have great ideas but they fail to Disrupt the marketplace and their innovations have gone nowhere. GM works hard to avoid innovations that might be market disruptions, instead offering sustaining innovations hoping to defend their old business model.

This new type of vehicle might have a chance of success. But the only hope is for both companies to ignore the PR. They should set up a White Space team, and give that team a year to really understand the unmet needs in the marketplace. Then go back to the original design and make it very explicitly meaningful to people who have unmet needs. Launch small, make money, learn and grow.

But given the approach this dynamic duo is taking, only luck will keep this from being another missed opportunity for both struggling companies.


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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Waiting for the economy? That won't work.

by Adam Hartung

Waiting for the economy? That won't work.Every day it seems someone tells me they "are looking forward to an improved economy." When I ask "Why?" they give me a horrified look like I must be stupid. "Because I want my business to improve" is the most frequent answer. To which I ask "What makes you think an improved economy will help you?"

This recession/depression is the result of several market shifts. What people/businesses want, and how they want it, has changed. They no longer are willing to part for hard earned (and often saved) dollars for the same solutions they once purchased. They want advances in technology, manufacturing processes, communications and all aspects of business to give them different solutions. Until that comes along, they are willing to put money in the bank and simply wait.

Take for example restaurants. Many owners and operators are complaining business was horrid in 2009, and still far from the way it was years ago. And regularly we hear it is due to "the recession. People fear they'll lose their jobs, so they don't eat out as often." Nicely said. Sounds logical. Makes for a convenient excuse for lousy results.

Only it's wrong.

In "Dinner out Declines: Economy Not Sole Factor" MediaPost.com does a great overview of the fact that dining out started declining in 2001, and has steadily been on a downward trend. Across all age groups, eating out is simply less interesting - at least at current prices. When the recession came along, it simply accelerated an existing trend. Increasingly, people were less satisfied with cookie-cutter, similar establishments that had similar food (almost all of which was prepared somewhere else and merely heated and combined in the restaurant) and exorbitant drink prices. For years restaurant prices had outpaced inflation, and simultaneously family changes - along with the growth of better prepared foods at grocers and specialty markets - was enticing people to eat at home.

This is true across almost all industries. A revived economy will not increase demand for land-line phone service. Nor for large V-8 American autos costing $60,000. Nor for newspapers, or magazines - or even books most likely. Or for oversized homes that cost too much to heat and cool. In fact, it was the trend away from these products which caused the recession. People simply had all of these things they wanted, so they stopped buying. Fearful of economic change, they simply accelerated a trend brought on by shifts in technology and underlying ways of doing things. When we once again talk about better economic growth in America it will not drive people to these purchases. Rather, people will be buying different things.

For the recession to go away requires a change in inputs. Providers have to start giving buyers what they want. They have to understand market needs, and give solutions which entice people to part with their money. Waiting for "the economy" will make no difference. Government stimulus can go on forever, but it won't create growth. It can't. Only new products and services that fulfill needs create growth. That will cause spending (demand), which generates the requirement for supply.

There are companies that had a great 2009. Google, Apple and Amazon are popular names. Why? Not just because they are somehow "tech" or "internet" companies. 2009 saw the demise of Sun Microsystems and Silicon Graphics, for example. The difference is these companies are studying the market, looking to the future and introducing new products and services which meet market needs. Because of this, they are growing. They are doing their part to revitalize the economy. Not with stimulus, but with products that excite people to part with their cash.

Those who are waiting on the economy to improve are destined to find a rough road. An improving economy will be full of new competitors with new solutions who did not wait. To be a winner businesses today must be bringing forward new products and services that meet today's needs - not yesterday's. And if we start getting winners then we will climb out of this economic foxhole.





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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keep Moving Forward - Apple, Microsoft, Google, RIM, Hearst

by Adam Hartung

Did you ever notice how often a large company will introduce a new solution (often a new technology), but then retrench from promoting it? Frequently, the market is developed by an alternate company that captures most of the value. We can see that behavior looking at smartphones.


Keep Moving Forward - Apple, Microsoft, Google, RIM, Hearst
Source: Silicon Alley Insider


In 2008, three early leaders were Microsoft, RIM and Palm. But Microsoft chose to invest in Defending & Extending its PC software business - with updates to the operating system in Vista and OS 7. As the market has shifted toward mobile computing, Microsoft has been clobbered. But largely because it remained stuck trying to protect its "core" while the market shifted away. Palm also tried to Defend & Extend (D&E) its early position with updates, but because it did not follow the pathway to greater usage with new applications it also has seen dramatic share decline.

Meanwhile, RIM has promoted new uses within the corporate world for mobility, and thus grown its market share. And Apple has made a huge impact by bringing forward dozens of new mobile applications, closely followed by Google. What we see is a classic example of the early entrant fading largely because they decided to Defend the old market, rather than investing in the new one. Really too bad for shareholders in Microsoft (losing 20 share points) and Palm (losing 10 share points), while good for shareholders of RIM, Apple and Google.

And in Apple's case we can see that the company continues using White Space to grow revenues by expanding the new marketplace. The iPad is off to a very strong start, with tens of thousands of units ordered last week. But of greater importance is how Apple is promoting the shift to mobile devices from traditional PC devices. At SeekingAlpha.com, in "How the iPad, Slates Will Evolve the Next Two Years," the reporter projects how demand for all laptop products will decline as more capability and functionality is added to mobile devices like smartphones and these new slate products.

Microsoft can keep trying to Defend & Extend PC technology, but it won't be long before their efforts largely won't matter. Don't forget that once Cray computers was a rapidly growing super-computer company. But increasing performance from much alternative products eventually made Cray irrelevant. Same for Silicon Graphics and Sun Microsystems.

Today the market capitalization of Microsoft is about $250B, about 4x sales. Apple's market cap is just over $200B, about 6x sales. Google's market cap is about $180B, about 8x sales. All reflect investor expectations about future growth. The D&E company is simply not expected to grow - and in fact is much more likely to disappoint than the companies growing share in growing markets toward which customers are shifting.

And any company can choose to participate in growth, versus Defend & Extend. While Tribune Corporation is trying to find a way out of bankruptcy, and struggling to figure out how to deal with market shifts away from newspapers, Hearst is taking positive action. The Wall Street Journal reports in "Hearst Jumps Into the Apps Business" how the old-line newspaper company has set up a White Space project, complete with dedicated people and its own funding, to begin developing mobile applications for news!

Even when business leaders see a market shift, far too many choose to Defend & Extend the "core." Unfortunately, that leads to disappointments. Keep in mind Microsoft and its rapid loss of Smartphone share as users move increasingly to mobile devices from PCs. To succeed leaders need to drive their organizations in the direction of market shifts, and growth. Like Apple, Google and even Hearst.


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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

A world without newspapers?

by Adam Hartung

A world without newspapers?We're rapidly becoming a quick-communication world. 140 characters is all we get on Twitter, and it's becoming the new "elevator pitch." Communication has moved from letters and phone calls to texting and Facebook. What we write, and say, is getting shorter. Book sales have declined for 4 years, and magazines are rapidly becoming an historical artifact. We rely on bloggers to read, digest, reformat and inform us quickly about what we want to know.

But, behind this, there has to be real fact gathering. Somebody has to report information as it happens, and dispense it. In many countries this was done by the government. But in the modern world we've relied on newspapers, and the wire feed services (AP, UPI, Reuters) that supply newspapers, to give us a lot of the raw news. Newspapers used ad revenue to pay for news acquisition, and they delivered the stream every morning.

But now, due to internet competition, newspapers are running out of cash. As people turn to the web for instant information advertisers have dropped newspapers. Subscriptions have fallen. And several newspaper companies, such as Tribune Corporation, have filed for bankruptcy. Many towns are at risk of losing the daily newspaper altogether. And employment has dropped to 1950's levels


Collapse of Newspaper Employment
So, what will be the prime source for information? Where will bloggers, and tweeters and web sites get the news if the newspapers disappear? Who is going to pay for field reporters, investigative reporters and correspondents in places far away - or dangerous like wars. The public has already bemoaned the lack of "news" in television news - which is more about pictures than news. And nowadays television news is dominated by opinion programs like "Countdown" or "The O'Reilly Factor."

It's clear that people want their information digitally - and mostly from the web. It's also clear that advertisers are drawn to the web with its far lower ad rates and specific, trackable ad placement. But what's unclear is where original news content will be created when the newspaper companies disappear. Even the most successful news web sites (Marketwatch.com and HuffingtonPost.com, as examples) depend largely upon information supplied them from wire feeds and newspaper sources for content.

A free society depends upon access to information. And nowhere is access more available than the USA. But unless there is some serious innovation in publishing, the system is at risk of collapse. Opinions will be as available as air, but if the original news sources dry up - what will everyone talk about? How will people - investors, voters, parents, politicians and others - obtain original information to become informed? Understanding what will replace the newspaper industry as a source of original news content is a difficult question to answer.

What will be the innovation that will keep the river of original, real time news flowing? In 2020, how will we be able to obtain information we can trust for accuracy?

The "media" industry is in big trouble. Large players, like News Corp., have seen profits decline - despite acquisitions like MySpace.com. GE recently agreed to sell NBC/Universal for less than it cost to create. But so far, few have figured out how make a profit from digital media as the market transitions away from print and television. While web sites proliferate, they produce less than 1/10th the revenue of old media.

Without some serious innovation, our news could soon be long on quantity - and very short on quality.


Editors Note: Apologies all around. This article from Adam Hartung was orignally supposed to be part of January's Innovation Perspectives, but I misplaced it. I hope you still enjoy it.


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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Setting Expectations for White Space - Apple iPad

by Adam Hartung

It's easy to misunderstand White Space. About twenty years ago Apple launched the Newton. The company sold about 375,000 of the first commercial PDAs, but Apple's leadership thought the market wasn't really there - and decided instead to focus on growing Mac sales. Obviously, as Palm and other PDA makers demonstrated, there was a tremendous market for PDAs. Apple misread the feedback from White Space.

Look now at the recent iPad launch. Silicon Alley Insider headlined "Now That They've Seen Apple's iPad, Most People Don't Want One." The headline keys on the fact that after the launch the number of people who said they were not interested to buy doubled (26% to 52%). Wrong fact to grab onto.

Apple iPad Sentiment
Instead, look at the fact that the number who said they would buy one tripled, from 3% to 9%. This is incredible, and should excite Apple's management as well as employees, suppliers and shareholders.

Most people will see a new, innovative product and say "why would I want that? I already have this other thing and it works great." And that is what marketers should expect. Most people are just trying to 'Defend & Extend' what they regularly do, and thus all the want is a product that helps them do their thing a little easier, faster, better and cheaper. They want minor improvements - variations and derivatives of what they already have. Improvements that are immediate, without them doing anything new or different.

All new deeply innovative products start with customers who are under-served or unserved. And this is why it is so important they be launched in White Space. White Space teams aren't intended to develop the big, mass market of known customers looking for something new. White Space is about doing new things that bring in new customers, give new solutions that attract real growth. And White Space teams have to learn how the market is evolving, how they fit into the market shift and how their solution will advance the market in order to sell more.

Setting Expectations for White Space - Apple iPadFor the iPad, the 3% to 9% shift in likely buyers is huge because it shows that the iPad is an offering that appeals to people who are not today well served by their existing PC, laptop, netbook, mobile phone, kindle or mix of these solutions. 9% of respondents are saying that they see the iPad and they see a solution for what they want to get done. And if 9% of potential buyers see this option, that is HUGE. By White Space standards, often there are only .5% or 1% or 2% of people who initially see how the new product fulfills their under-served needs.

Set expectations right for White Space. White Space is not for launching variation 4 of an existing product - targeted at existing customers. That's what the marketing and sales department can do fine, thank you very much. White Space is the team that finds the 3% (or in Apple's case 9%) of users that see value in this solution, then works with them to implement the product/solution in order to make sure it fulfills the market need and is priced to sell effectively while providing a profit to the company.

Apple understands this, you can be assured. Look at how successfully the Apple White Space teams found the underserved users that jumped all over the iPod and iTunes, the iTouch and then the iPhone. They got the product positioned and selling in a hurry. And now that Apple has that skill, the company is going to apply it to the iPad. If you understand this chart correctly, you understand that it bodes very, very good things for Apple.

And it tells you the importance of having White Space teams, setting their expectations correctly, and managing them for the kind of results that can turn your organization into the next Apple. It took Apple 10 years to reach this skill level. It did not happen overnight. Or with one product introduction. And it will take your organization a few years to build this skill. So, what are you waiting on?


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Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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Friday, January 08, 2010

The Decade's Top Performing CEOs

by Adam Hartung

The Decade's Top Performing CEOsI was intrigued when I read on the Harvard Business Review web site "Do we celebrate the wrong CEOs?" The article quickly pointed out that many of the best known CEOs - and often named as most respected - didn't come close to making the list of the top 100 best performing CEOs. Some of those on Barron's list of top 30 most respected that did not make the cut as best performing include Immelt of GE, Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Palmesano of IBM and Tillerson of Exxon Mobil. It did seem striking that often business people admire those who are at the top of organizations, regardless of their performance.

I was delighted when HBR put out the full article "The Best Performing CEOs in the World." And it is indeed an academic exercise of great value. The authors looked at CEOs who came into their jobs either just before 2000, or during the decade, and the results they obtained for shareholders. There were 1,999 leaders who fit the timeframe. As has held true for a long time in the marketplace, the top 100 accounted for the vast majority of wealth creation - meaning if you were invested with them you captured most of the decade's return - while the bulk of CEOs added little value and a great chunk created negative returns. (It does beg the question - why do Boards of Directors keep on CEOs who destroy shareholder value - like Barnes of Sara Lee, for example? It would seem something is demonstrably wrong when CEOs remain in their jobs, usually with multi-million dollar compensation packages, when year after year performance is so bad.)

The list of "Top 50 CEOs" is available on the HBR website. This group created 32% average gains every year! They created over $48.2B of value for investors. Comparatively, the bottom 50 had negative 20% annual returns, and lost over $18.3B. As an investor, or employee, it is much, much better to be with the top 5% than to be anywhere else on the list. However, only 5 of the top best performers were on the list of top 50 highest paid - demonstrating again that CEO pay is not really tied to performance (and perhaps at least part of the explanation for why business leaders are less admired now than the previous decade.)

Consistent among the top 50 was the ability to adapt. Especially the top 10. Steve Jobs of Apple was #1, a leader and company I've blogged about several times. As readers know, Apple went from a niche producer of PCs to a leader in several markets completely unrelated to PCs under Mr. Jobs' leadership. His ability to keep moving his company back into the growth Rapids by rejecting "focus on the core" and instead using White Space to develop new products for growth markets has been a model well worth following. And in which to be invested.

Similarly, the leaders of Cisco, Amazon, eBay and Google have been listed here largely due to their willingness to keep moving into new markets. Cisco was profiled in my book Create Marketplace Disruption for its model of Disruption that keeps the company constantly opening White Space. Amazon went from an obscure promoter of non-inventoried books to the leader in changing how books are sold, to the premier on-line retailer of all kinds of products, to the leader in digitizing books and periodicals with its Kindle launch. eBay has to be given credit for doing much more than creating a garage sale - they are now the leader in independent retailing with eBay stores. And their growth of PayPal is on the vanguard of changing how we spend money - eliminating checks and making digital transactions commonplace. Of course Google has moved from a search engine to a leader in advertising (displacing Yahoo!) as well as offering enterprise software (such as Google Wave), cloud applications to displace the desktop applications, and emerging into the mobile data/telephony marketplace with Android. All of these company leaders were willing to Disrupt their company's "core" in order to use White Space that kept the company constantly moving into new markets and GROWTH.

We can see the same behavior among other leaders in the top 10 not previously profiled here. Samsung has moved from a second rate radio/TV manufacturer to a leader in multiple electronics marketplaces and the premier company in rapid product development and innovation implementation. Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that has returned almost 2,000% to investors - while the leaders of Merck and Pfizer have taken their companies the opposite direction. By taking on market challenges with new approaches Gilead has used flexibility and adaptation to dramatically outperform companies with much greater resources - but an unwillingness to overcome their Lock-ins.

Three names not on the list are worth noting. Jack Welch was a great Disruptor and advocate of White Space (again, profiled in my book). But his work was in the 1990s. His replacement (Mr. Immelt) has fared considerably more poorly - as have investors - as the rate of Disruption and White Space has fallen off a proverbial cliff. Even though much of what made GE great is still in place, the willingness to Defend & Extend, as happened in financial services, has increased under Mr. Immelt to the detriment of investors.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are now good friends, and also not on the list. Firstly, they created their investor fortunes in previous decades as well. But in their cases, they remained as leaders who moved into the D&E world. Microsoft has become totally Locked-in to its Gates-era Success Formula, and under Steve Ballmer the company has done nothing for investors, employees - or even customers. And Berkshire Hathaway has spent the last decade providing very little return to shareholders, despite all the great press for Mr. Buffett and his success in previous eras. Each year Mr. Buffett tells investors that what worked for him in previous years doesn't work any more, and they should not expect previous high rates of return. And he keeps proving himself right. Until both Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway undertake significant Disruptions and implement considerably more White Space we should not expect much for investors.

This has been a tough decade for far too many investors and employees. As we end the year, the list of television programs bemoaning how badly the decade has gone is long. Show after show laments the poor performance of the stock market, as well as employers. We end the year with official unemployment north of 10%, and unofficial unemployment some say near 20%. But what this HBR report tells us is that it is possible to have a good decade. We need leaders who are willing to look to the future for their planning (not the past), obsess about competitors to discover market shifts, be willing to Disrupt old Success Formulas by attacking Lock-in, and using White Space to keep the company in the growth Rapids. When businesses overcome old notions of "best practice" that keeps them trying to Defend & Extend then business performs marvelously well. It's just too bad so few leaders and companies are willing to follow The Phoenix Principle.



Adam HartungAdam Hartung, author of "Create Marketplace Disruption", is a Faculty and Board member of the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Managing Partner of Spark Partners, and writes for "Forbes" and the "Journal for Innovation Science."

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