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Jeff Kagan: Threats and Opportunities as Change-Wave Sweeps In

Every company in every industry is facing new threats and new opportunities. To continue to be successful they must do one important thing and they must do it well.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.

There is a new threat and a new opportunity facing every company in every industry. Things are changing and rapidly. Today’s successful companies are not guaranteed to remain that way unless they also successfully transform themselves. Let’s take a closer look at some winners and losers. How companies are changing to remain in a leadership position and how new players are trying to break-in.

We have watched countless successful leaders in yesterday’s world struggle to transform the way they do business and continue to succeed moving forward. Example, in the wireless handset industry, Motorola was the leader in handsets for decades. Then in the 1990’s, as the wireless networks were transforming from analog to digital, Motorola missed that change wave.

Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry Missed the Next Growth Wave

Nokia NOK and Blackberry BBRY took over the leadership position next and held it for a decade until the next, big change wave swept across the industry and transformed everything once again.

That’s when Apple AAPL iPhone and Google GOOGL Android entered the space sending Nokia and Blackberry to the bottom of the list along with Motorola.

As you can see, change waves continue to sweep across industry after industry changing everything. Always have and always will. It’s just the nature of the beast.

In this world, yesterday’s leaders are not guaranteed to remain leaders going forward. As technology continues to reshape our world, leadership often changes. Some companies are successful at making the shift. Others are not.

Today Apple iPhone and Google Android Lead Changing Smartphone Space

Today Apple iPhone and Google Android are the two, big leaders in the new smartphone space. They became leaders in a variety of ways. One way is the app market. Before the iPhone and Android there were only a few hundred apps. Today, there are more than two million and the app market is exploding with growth.

This is the kind of impact the change wave has on leaders in every industry. This is both a challenge and a growth opportunity.

Companies cannot ignore this threat. If they do, they risk ending up like Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry. That’s a fate every company wants to avoid. Especially public companies who must show continued growth in order to keep shareholders happy.

At CES 2019 Companies like Synchronoss Technologies Help Companies Transform

Last week at CES 2019 you could see countless ideas how companies can transform themselves and stay on the growth wave.

One of those companies is Synchronoss Technologies SCRN. They help telecom, media and tech companies modernize, think and act in new ways, so they can remain leaders or become leaders going forward.

Companies need to continually focus on change. Sometimes the changes I am talking about are smaller tweaks. Other times it’s a complete re-invention. Even though that can be frightening to some executives, it’s a price that must be paid if they want to continue to succeed.

There is simply no other way. Sticking with the change wave is so important for many different reasons. The bottom line is this. Customer’s expectations are continually changing. What they didn’t expect yesterday, they love today, and they will demand tomorrow. And every competitor needs to be there just to play in the game.

Google and Amazon Change-Wave Send Yahoo!, Bookstores and Retailers Down

Expectations change because new competitors enter and suddenly reinvent the entire experience. That happened with Google entered the search engine space sending then leaders like Yahoo down to the bottom of the list. That happened with reinvented the bookselling business then kept expanding. Now they lead in online shopping of all kinds, cloud and so much more.

You must remain aware of how new competitors and new technology will continue to enter and transform your space. This change wave will continue to sweep across and change company after company in industry after industry.

Don’t Sit Still or Change Wave Will Move on Ahead Without You

That means you can’t just sit still, or the change wave will move on ahead without you, leaving you behind in the dust. That has happened to countless companies over time. Either they chose not to change, or they tried and failed.

This is the challenge and the growth opportunity every executive in every company faces today and in fact has always faced. The threat is not new, but it is real.

There are three kinds of companies when it comes to the growth curve I always talk about. Companies on the growth side. Companies on the cresting top end. And companies who are on the falling side.

AT&T, Verizon on Growth Side of Growth Wave

Plus, there are two kinds of leaders on the growth wave. There are leaders or early adopters and there are followers.

Example, I see AT&T T as one of the leaders. They are first with new technology like the iPhone, DirecTV NOW pay TV, wireless TV and more. Verizon VZ is a follower. They are just as successful but take a slower approach. Both are on the growth side of the growth wave.

That’s the key. So, being a leader or a follower is where you want to be. Especially if you are a public company. Growth is what investors are interested in.

If you are not a leader or a follower, then you are in trouble. Leaders and followers are on the growth side of the wave. Other companies are on the falling side and they are the ones at the biggest risk.

There are quite a few leaders from yesterday. Every one of these needs to transform themselves and stick with the change wave. Only some of yesterday’s leaders will successfully transform and remain leaders going forward. What about your company or the companies you invest in, work for or buy from? That’s one very important question for you to consider.

Jeff Kagan is an columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at [email protected]. His web site is Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan.

Stories like Charlie Munger’s inspire me. It shows why you must live life as an optimist.