There is a great column in Forbes today about planning for growth. One example is EarthLink. But the opening needs to read carefully:
Most planning starts with “I’m in the horseshoe (for example) business. My market isn’t growing, and there is more capacity than demand. How can I grow?” For these people, their sign is "find the needle."
What business are you really in? is an important question. Comcast and other ISP's think they are in the broadband business. I think they are actually in the entertainment business. The whole peering fight with Level3-Comcast-over-Netflix leads me to believe that no one understands that broadband is a government term. People are buying entertainment. As Facebook becomes bigger than any nation and with far more information than any corporation ever had before (see blog post here)
Telcos need to look at what they have to become to stay relevant. CDN, Cloud offerings and social networks have taken a lot of value out of the telcos and keep reducing them to dump pipe status, which largely they know is not a growth market.
"Instead of looking at what you did (as in the past tense) try to figure out what you should do. Rather than studying past products, customers and markets, why not develop scenarios about the future that give you insight to what people will want to buy in 2011, 2012 and beyond?" [forbes]
A great example to DSL is the newspaper industry that decries Google for stealing its revenue. "Newspapers kept focusing on declining subscriptions, when they should have been studying Craig’s List, eBay, Vehix.com and other on-line environments to learn the future of advertising. Had Tribune company poured its resources into its early internet investments, such as cars.com and careerbuilder.com, rather than trying to defend its traditional newspapers, it may well have avoided bankruptcy. But rather than looking to the future when doing its planning, and understanding that on-line news was going to explode, Tribune kept looking for the needle (cost cuts, layoffs, outsourcing, etc.) to save the old success formula."[forbes]
"What do customers want, and how can we give them what they want? How can we create whole new markets?" See you in Orlando in March where we can explore this in-depth.