What's the Difference Between Blockbuster and Amazon?

In 1976, a high school senior in New Jersey listened to his teacher, a mean in his early forties, explain the value of typing for college students. Thirty years later, that student’s daughter sat in the same classroom listening to the same teacher explain the intricacies of Microsoft Excel while writing code on the Smartboard.

How does this anecdote relate to smith & beta’s mission of continual professional development? That teacher did something that few professionals in our industry are doing: he adapted with technology to stay relevant in his field.  

Computer science is not the only field in which professionals are being left in the dust by changing technology. Today, brands across industries are facing an ultimatum: either adapt your products and marketing strategies to new technology or risk closing your doors [think Blockbuster].

Why is this shift upending so many industries and major organizations?

According to smith & beta’s 2016 report, 62% of industry professionals say their clients are asking for more advanced digital work from them yet 43% of respondents acknowledged they are unprepared to provide more advanced work. When a company does not have the knowledge and talent to give their customers what they expect in the current technological climate, they fall behind and often cannot catch up.

Although some companies are adapting well to technological advances, few brands have been able to stand out by being innovative with technology. In 2014, Amazon released its “sleeper hit,” the Amazon Echo. Initially, the invention of the Echo seemed to be a daunting task but by learning the technology and being innovative, Amazon was able to release the product.  

Companies can only create new digital products like the Pizza Tracker if they are knowledgeable about both the needs of their customers and digital technology. Companies can only create new digital products like “Alexa” if they are knowledgeable about both the needs of their customers and digital technology.

The thought of your company becoming the next Blockbuster or Kodak is a bit unnerving for most.  What is the solution? How can your organization avoid becoming irrelevant due to technology? Education.  

The teacher prided himself on acknowledging technological advances and his shifting shortcomings. To stay abreast with new technology, innovation, and mindsets he took classes to stay current; your organization needs to do the same.  

smith & beta has a plethora of workshops designed to help organizations learn how to use new technology innovatively including our class “Technology Innovation: Possibility and Feasibility.” This workshop, taught by Scott Prindle (of Domino’s Pizza Tracker fame), focuses on techniques for rapidly assessing technical feasibility, timing, and costs and ensuring a steady-stream of innovative ideas, all rooted in the realities of client budgets and timelines.

Don’t try and be a company in 2017 trying to rent videos from a storefront.  

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Talent Development, Experts and Mindsets. Let's Go.

Our business at smith & beta has always been focused on the development of people walking in the doors each day. We believe that if a company focuses on the current talent, what they know today and should know in the future, it can make all the difference to the bottom line. But some leaders aren’t familiar with talent development. It’s new. It feels unmeasurable. It seems foreign compared to hiring a few new experts. It’s a mindset and strategic shift. Yet we know talent development works. We also know that experts don’t scale. Often those superheros we hire land at the new job only to find that no one at the company understands them. They get siloed into a back room. They are change agents without support. They eventually leave. It happens time and time again. Take a minute to consider your budget for hiring experts this year or even a single leader and then compare to your training dollars. Is there a big difference? Do you operate as “training is nice to have” but not required? If so, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to scale and distribute capabilities beyond a few people at your company. Digital is not a department. Digital is shared knowledge, common language and collective understanding. When we design talent development programs, we work with industry leaders directly to lead content design. They are the experts. They know what should specifics should be covered. They walk in the room and own the conversation with employees. Below we’ve included a great workshop to get started this year.