Forrester CXNYC 2016
On June 20th, as part of Forrester’s CXNYC 2016, innovation boutique Evol8tion hosted an event that brought together five startups and major business names to hear a keynote speech, startup pitches, and a panel on the intersection of brands and technology.
Co-Founder and CEO of Evol8tion, Joseph Jaffe, the keynote speaker, kicked off by discussing topics including customer relationships, what the ‘next big thing’ is (or isn’t) and the three types of brands.
Jaffe began describing how businesses are failing at customer retention: “without our customers we are nothing, but without retention we cannot get new customers.” Jaffe explained that businesses need to take care of the basics and not be so focussed on what the next big thing is, but instead focus on the now. To put it bluntly, Jaffe said, “most big brands today suck at customer aspects of the business”. Jaffe believes this is due to the tendency to focus on emerging spaces rather than simple things such as taking care of customers and their desires early. This, Jaffe argued, is the key to growing efficiently and effectively.
70% of Fortune 500 companies from the 90’s are out of that list, and 50% of those from 2000 are gone as well.
In Jaffe’s day-to-day life, he communicates with startups and major brands alike, and it is clear that he has been asked the same question countless times: what is the next big thing? “There is no ‘next big thing’, the next big thing is now!” he retorts. “It is important to focus on the ‘now’ because this is where the major changes are occurring.” This advice should not be taken lightly, for the major changes are obvious: 70% of Fortune 500 companies from the 1990s are now out of that list, with faster moving companies replacing them. Even more recently, 50% of Fortune 500 companies from the 2000s have gone as well.
“Change takes longer than you think,” he continued, “but conversely, the effects are sudden, so you have to face it head on otherwise your company may fail. All companies have to adapt and grow, or face extinction.” With familiar faces and famous quotes shown on screen during the presentation regarding evolution, Darwinism and extinction, the crux of the argument is clear— either your company adapts, or it dies.
Jaffe provided a few examples of primary movers that did not adapt, nor root out inefficiencies, and were pushed aside as a result. And by just comparing today’s business leaders with those two decades ago, the differences become starkly clear. In 2004, Blockbuster possessed over 9,000 stores; today Netflix, arguably the world’s most prolific video “delivery” service and the major beneficiary of Blockbuster’s demise, possesses none. Similarly Uber, the world’s biggest taxi firm, owns no cars, and Airbnb, the largest accommodation provider, owns no property.
With that in mind, Jaffe finishes by talking about the three types of brands:
Brands that make things happen - they adapt early, and they do it first
Brands that watch things happen - they witness others growing and it’s not too late join, but they need to adapt, and fast
Brands that turn around and say “what happened?” - these are the Myspaces, the Pet.coms and other (previously alluded to) defunct businesses
So what can you take from this? Well, now is the time for your company to look to the future, and the future is startups. They may not be your direct competitor just yet, but somewhere there are a couple of people in a garage trying to take your product, service and/or idea, and make it better. Now is the time for you to adapt and change, don’t allow laziness to creep in, or the idea that your company is too big to fail. Find these startups and learn from them, learn with them -or get pushed aside.
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Josh is interning with us at Evol8tion this summer as well as co-running a clothing company on the side - Grizzly Springs. Josh will be writing for us a few more times before he leaves. Learn more about him here.
Joseph Jaffe is Co-Founder and CEO of Evol8tion. Evol8tion matches leading brands with early stage technology startups to create mutually beneficial partnerships. Evol8tion aims to bring entrepreneurs and brands together further upstream in the development process to build technology solutions to business and marketing challenges.