What would happen if Amazon (and the rest: Hermes, Asos…) weren’t there? You’d need to have a look online, see what you wanted and then go to the shops and pick it up. Has it ever occurred to you that Google and Amazon won’t be around forever – then what?

Now, there are countries in the world where Amazon doesn’t operate yet. New Zealand was one of them until April 2018. How did people cope? Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Even now, NZ gets shipped from the US, so the VP on which Amazon trades (quick and cheap) is compromised. Will Amazon succeed in NZ, when it can’t bring anything new to the market? Probably enough to make it viable. That’s Amazon for you.

Here’s where I’m going with this. Companies come, and companies fail or fade away. Remember Friends Reunited? Did you miss it when it was gone? Nope, Facebook was there by then. MySpace? Same thing probably. Vine? Where are all your videos now? Ever heard of MP3.com? Once upon a time, it was the only place to put your music catalogue. Now it’s barely a memory.

So, if this can happen to these guys and BHS, House of Fraser, Toys ‘R’ Us… what’s to say it can’t happen to Facebook, Google, Vimeo, YouTube? Don’t think that, just because you’ve placed all your marketing eggs in the Instagram basket, or your family photographs on a particular cloud, they’re always going to be there. These are companies with an interest in making money. They aren’t your best friend, and they aren’t loyal to you.

This scenario is one that many of you probably can’t imagine. If you weren’t directly affected by the 1987 stock market crash, or weren’t around when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, you’ll be forgiven for that.

But to base your entire strategy on providers who could vanish overnight – doesn’t that give you something to think about? What if Google stopped tomorrow? If your whole business relies on Google document sharing and all your email does too, what happens when it gets hit by a cyber-attack? Sure, it’s technically their problem, but it’s your business that goes dark and stops generating sales. A cloud back-up may restore you to an operational state, but what platform will you use? What platforms are there?

These might seem really abstract concepts before any kind of cataclysm has happened. After one does (and it will), I’ll dig out this link and pretend I was a kind of soothsayer but, frankly, it’s just common sense.

Innovation follows a similar cycle. When Elon Musk gets to Mars and leaves all his projects in the hands of his teams, how will things look for the people who have put deposits on the Tesla Model 3? When Tim moves on, and the memory of Steve Jobs is another generation older, how do we regard Apple versus Android? When Jeff Bezos retires who will be the charismatic leader of ‘fun’ at Amazon?

More probable than Elon getting to Mars (but don’t bet against him on my say-so) might be that consumers get impatient with Google controlling their view of the internet. As the deep web opens up and machine learning (ML) becomes affordably accessible, it won’t take long for us to realise that Google’s opinion about what appears on page 1 of their search results is less important than us finding the answer we want. Why do we trust Google to give us the best answer just because their algorithm reads us the way it does? We’re going to have to develop a better idea of what we want and need, through innovation planning, to avoid the blind acceptance that we’ll see what we want when Google shows it to us.

Another example of consumer frustration today is plastics manufacturers not stepping up and funding vital sea clean-ups. Watch and see which plastic bottle manufacturers, or brands that use them, fold because they read the current consumer anxiety as a reason to change material rather than getting into the subject and really coming up with the answer to single-use packaging.

How about CO2 running out, shortening the life of produce, making the manufacture of beer and soft drinks harder, and the distribution of produce and raw meat more difficult in the method that has been developed – ah, too late. That one just happened.

You get the point. Not having an innovation plan of your own, that considers your own views of a future where things are different, is what will make your life tougher than it needs to be.

Get an innovation plan. If anything in this blog has struck a chord with you, drop me a line. Let’s talk.

Seeing it differently, Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

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