Embracing the Disruptions
Innovation has disrupted almost every industry with recent examples such as Uber with Taxis, Netflix with Videos, Airbnb with Hotels, and so on. There are few industries remaining that have yet to be disrupted. The Fashion Industry is certainly on its way to joining the list of those being disrupted. 3-D Printed clothing, Self-Healing fabric, AR/VR, IOT, and Wearables all have the potential to change the world of fashion. The evolution of clothing will eventually lead to clothing that talks and can interact with the owner in many ways.
Many companies have embraced change and have done a great job of not only keeping their customers but growing their customer base by adopting new consumer values for their Brands. However, it takes a certain vision to keep up with times. There are still many brands that are hesitant to embrace technology. The same can be said of some very intelligent people from generations past who failed to see the potential in these new innovations.
Here are some quotes by some very accomplished smart people:
1920 – Investor David Sarnoff, on the radio:
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
1916 – Charlie Chaplin on Theatres:
“The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage.”
1943 – IBM Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Watson On Computers:
“There is a world market for about five computers.”
1946 – 20th Century Fox CEO Darryl Zanuck On Television:
“Television won’t be able to hang on to any market it captures after six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
These quotes are from successful and intelligent people who firmly believed in what they were saying, but were they truly visionary? There will be more quotes in the future from executives who are dismissive of new technologies and trends. Often times these individuals will be big players in their respective industries.
The wise have always said, “the only thing that is constant is change.” An argument could be made that it’s not constant, but rather it is accelerating at a rapid pace. Intel co-founder Gordon Moore noticed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits doubled every year since their invention. Innovation multiplying every year was coined as Moore’s Law on innovation. However, the number of transistors has slowed down due to physical limitations.
If I could recreate this law, I would say innovation comes in the form of a Bell curve to a particular area. And, of course, rename it as Beg’s Law.
It isn’t simple to figure out where we currently are on this curve. If it were, then most of the Fortune 500 companies over the past 30 years would still be around. According to IFS World, 70% of Fortune 500 companies no longer exist.
Fashion Innovation on a fast road
To not only thrive but survive in a hypercompetitive global environment and a world of accelerated change, companies need to add value as opposed to cutting costs.
This study in Built to Change by Edward Lawler and Christopher Worley also found that between 1973 and 1983, 35% of the top companies in the Fortune 1000 companies were new. However, in the next decade (1983 to 1993), the rate of replacement increased to 45%, and then jumped again to a whopping 60% between 1993 and 2003. If the current trend continues, over 70% of Fortune 1000 companies will turnover in ten years, and the turnover percentage will continue to increase. Although this statistic may invoke fear , what it should do is demonstrate the importance of capitalizing on change instead of fearing it.
The Fashion industry is one of the few industries that has yet to be truly disrupted by radical innovation. Technology and Fashion is meeting and intersecting in a big and disruptive way. By choosing not to move with the latest advances, luxury brands are effectively leaving the playing field open for more innovative companies to steal market share. Here are some examples: Farfetch, Shoptiques, InstantLuxe and TheRealReal (each host mini boutiques on a single online platform) could profit from luxury’s digital aversion. Authentic Or Not’s patented technology also has fashion brands thinking about different ways to connect with customers directly through their products and utilizing artificial intelligence. The merger of Net-a-Porter and Yoox is already creating a new luxury e-commerce superpower as well. Only fashion companies with true visionaries as leaders will see technology as an opportunity, rather than an expense.
The characteristic of great innovative brands is they see a space that others do not. Many companies have created positions such as the Chief Innovation Officer to ensure they continue to survive and thrive as industries change. Stretching those innovation muscles has become more important for brands today as the world turns faster than ever before.
Using Beg’s Law, where do you think the fashion technology industry is on the Bell Curve today?
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