We have seen this in many sectors, most prominently in consumer products. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nike, and Unilever are reinventing themselves as they did at the start of the mass media era, into generators of marketing innovation and creators of business models.
For marketers, the greatest challenge and opportunity is the new imperative of metrics. Based in part on the rich availability of data about online consumer activity (but also related to new insights about the impact of television and other legacy media on consumer behavior), marketers are learning new ways of judging the effectiveness of their work, and building new real-time efforts to create responsive, generative advertising. Although new media have been around for a dozen years, it’s only since 2006 that the trend of customer-centric, insight-rich marketing has broken through into the mainstream. Most consumer-oriented companies will never be the same.
All of these trends favor companies that can be more internally capable and resilient. Our experience and our observations suggest that this is happening — at least in the best companies we work with. And as the examples of the leaders become more visible, we think others may follow.
In every industry, there is at least one company that has shown its ability to master these challenges. We hope this is a good year for you, and that you will be able to master your own challenges in good time to enjoy a prosperous 2008.
Art Kleiner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor-in-chief of strategy+business. A new edition of his 1996 book on the history of corporate change, The Age of Heretics, will be published by Wiley Books in 2008.