Adapt or die: The only constant in technology is change

dodo-bird

Here’s a list of 10 companies. See if you can guess what they have in common.

  1. AOL
  2. Yahoo!
  3. Geocities
  4. MSN
  5. Netscape
  6. Excite
  7. Lycos
  8. Microsoft
  9. American Greetings
  10. Infoseek

So how are these companies linked? They were the 10 most-visited web properties in 1998, according to Media Metrix. Now here’s another list of companies, this from Comscore (and H/T to Visual Capitalist for both lists):

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Oath:
  4. Microsoft
  5. Amazon
  6. Comcast NBC Universal
  7. CBS
  8. Disney
  9. Apple
  10. Hearst

Those were the most-visited web properties of 2018. How many companies are on both lists? Just one: Microsoft. Most of the other traffic leaders from 1998 either have been purchased or faded into obscurity. AOL and Yahoo!, for example, now are subdivisions of Oath:, which itself is a subsidiary of Verizon Communications. GeoCities, which Yahoo! bought in 1999, ended its service in 2009. And Infoseek was scooped up by Disney in 1999, only to have all its employees laid off two years later.

While you can fairly argue that 1998 is ancient history, the other way to look at it is that the commercial Internet really was in its infancy only two decades ago — yet look how much things have changed! That change was driven by two primary forces: 1) new technologies and 2) business models that evolved as companies began learning how to leverage the power of the Internet. And no one got to call a timeout to figure out their next moves, either; it all was happening in real time — just as it is today.

All of which underscores a sobering reality facing enterprises — and enterprise workers — going forward: Your ability to adapt and constantly relearn is critical to your survival in the digital age.

Think about the technology breakthroughs we’ve seen since the days when Lycos, Geocities, and Excite mattered: wireless, mobile phones, tablets, text messaging, social media, GPS, artificial intelligence, SEO, mobile payments, wearables, the Internet of Things, voice assistants, cloud computing, edge computing. Enterprises that were quick to harness these new technologies gained operational and competitive benefits in the form of greater efficiency, better collaboration, improved customer service, lower costs, and increased revenue.

Similarly, workers who were able to recognize the opportunities presented by these emerging technologies and expand their skill sets have carved out new career paths. I know journalists who have become SEO experts and social media directors, just as any number of desktop software developers have transitioned to the mobile world.

If you don’t recognize and embrace change, you’ll eventually become irrelevant. That goes for enterprises and people. Otherwise you’re going to end up on a list you don’t want to be on.

Comments

  1. Great article,Yes it has become more commercial and harder for small companies to keep up with, making the big boys even bigger.

    But has it become more informative and useful? Those really useful academic based pages that one could find easily in 1998 are no longer written and why would you when you have to be an SEO expert to even begin to be found.

    The internet was supposed to give us more free time, the reality is we are all now slaves to it and work longer than ever. You see this every day people walking along with their faces planted in their phones.

    It has become what you buy and not what you learn, it was never meant to be this way.

    I miss netscape !

    Like

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