Become the Cannibal

I am sure you’ve read about a large company hitting trouble, usually at the hands of some zippy startup. Kodak failed to appreciate the power of the digital camera, Nokia failed to appreciate the nimble Apple and quickly faded into obscurity.

More companies will fail to appreciate their processes are slowing down, relative to the increasing pace of technology.

All is not lost, however. The answer lies in the same structure that might be your demise. As a company grows and establishes layers and layers of process, control and oversight it’s often putting in place the exact structures the competitors don’t have.

I was recently discussing technology with a project manager at a large corporate. They were upset at the amount of internal red tape and the time it was taking to develop and deploy a service their customers needed. It was during this time we realised the model was broken.

Big companies should NOT try to improve their products and services over time, they should try to cannibalise their users every 5 years or so with a better product.

By creating a new brand and technology backbone, based upon the latest technology available you have the opportunity to become the startup but with the security of the corporate financial backing.

This new brand should have the ability to select the best tools for the job, implement the best security without historical handcuffs and approach the market in a fresh way that’s fit for the times.

I will give you two good examples of this working well.

In the UK the pub/restaurant trade understand this well. When the building is starting to look a little run down its often you see a complete change of furniture and often a change of name.

Behind the scenes are the same owners etc but the location is updated to reflect the surrounding neighbourhood profile and style.

Another company cannibalising itself is Philip Morris. Seeing the writing on the wall for traditional cigarettes, their core product, they have started to introduce alternative products. The current business is driving users away from traditional smoking and into alternatives. They will lose some of their current customers who might quit smoking but they will also pick up some new customers from their competitors who are not moving fast enough.

How can your business cannibalise itself for the long term good? What parts of your business would benefit from a technology refresh and rebrand?