Guest Column

May 11, 2014

'Digital Darwinism' creates business winners, losers

I have a 13-year old goddaughter who lives with her mother in China. We neither email nor text one another; it’s a rule to which we both adhere religiously. We write letters to one another, we occasionally talk on the phone and each month we exchange small gifts. For those of you who have seen some of them, she’s the one who keeps me outfitted in “colorful” socks.

She recently called to ask if her mother emailing me a copy of a term paper to review would be a “technical violation of the no email rule.” After a brief discussion, we agreed that, for scholastic purposes, third-party emails would not violate our agreement.

The topic of her paper was Digital Darwinism.

Brain Solis, a principal with the Altimeter Group, coined the term Digital Darwinism; it refers to the concept that “we are living in an era where technology and society are evolving faster than businesses can naturally adapt.”

In today’s business world, it’s all about how fast a company adapts to changes in customer behavior.

I was impressed that she accurately attributed the following quote not to Charles Darwin, but to Dr. Leon Megginson of Louisiana State University. The quote is from Megginson’s 1963 book Lessons from Europe for American Business in which he wrote:

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

Regardless to whom it’s attributed; it’s a quote anyone in business would do well to remember.

Changes in how people communicate, connect and discover have serious implications for businesses. For example, Viacom acquired Blockbuster in 1994 and grew the brand to dominate the movie rental market. Enter Netflix, and soon Viacom, 80 percent owner of Blockbuster, couldn’t give the shares away. Why? Because with remarkable speed, renting movies became passé. 

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