Why Are There Fewer Publicly-traded Companies Today?

Dean Charles Hoffman

 

Charles E. Hoffman
Dean, UMSL Business

 

With a small increase this year, the number of companies publicly traded on U.S. stock exchanges increased to over 5,000.  But this total is down from over 8,000 before the dot-com bubble burst,  the dramatic rise in private equity firms, and the overreaction from Congress and federal regulators that led to new rules such as Sarbanes Oxley.

Publicly traded companies are under intense pressure to produce quarterly increases in sales and profits, sometimes to the long term detriment of the enterprise.  The public company CEO has to balance long term shareholder value generation with the demands of the competitive market, employee interests, customer demand, and his or her board of directors, in addition to pleasing analysts and institutional shareholders with steady, impressive growth.  It’s no wonder that many companies are choosing to remain privately held.  The long term needs of the business can be addressed without stock market confusion and misunderstanding.

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Conquering Fear of Failure: How I Arrived in Marketing

transform-fear-into-actionEveryone makes mistakes.  Small mistakes— forgetting the grocery list; expensive mistakes— getting a speeding ticket; embarrassing mistakes— sending a text meant for a significant other to your mom.  And sometimes we make mistakes of epic proportions— life-altering decisions or choices that just didn’t have the results we thought they would.

The funny thing about mistakes and failure in general, is that they also represent learning opportunities or opportunities to change for the better. Even those of epic proportions. Especially those of epic proportions. The bigger the mess-up, the more you can learn from it.

I made one of those mistakes of epic proportions.  Some people might not consider it a mistake, but I do, and you’ll find out why in a minute.

I went to art school.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, what’s so bad about that?  Art is great!”  And you’d be right— art is great and I love it.  The trouble is, I only went to art school when I should have taken the time to pursue a second major in addition to art.  I should have done a second major because I desperately wanted to, but I was afraid of failing, afraid that I would have to do math when I was utterly convinced that I had little mathematical or otherwise analytical ability.  This, in the face of a 5 (the highest possible score) on the AP Biology exam, a 740 (out of 800) in my SAT II, and an overall high school GPA of 3.9.  I know.  Don’t ask me why I thought that way, because I still haven’t entirely worked it out myself.

So I went off to college, to art school, because it was the only thing I wasn’t afraid of.

Lesson 1: Never avoid something you want to do just because you are afraid of failing.

I’ve been drawing constantly since I was a child— in my free time, during class (my teachers just loved that, as you might imagine), on road trips, while I thought about how to tackle a school project, and eventually even as part of my study regimen to help with memorization.  I took all kinds of art classes in a variety of media— painting, ceramics, glass.  So it was only logical that I would go to art school and continue my education in that area.

I enjoyed a lot about my experience at Washington University in St. Louis’ Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. And I vastly improved my drawing and art while I was there.

But it felt incomplete.

I consistently thought about adding a second major, considering an array of different options that struck my wildly varied interests— biology, English, meteorology, business.  Suddenly I was two years into college, facing a decision about what my major in art would be and realizing that it was too late to add a second major if I was going to finish in the four years covered by the faculty tuition benefit program.

Lesson 2: Don’t wait too long to make decisions, or the window in which to make them might close.

When graduation rolled around, all too quickly for my liking, I found myself staring into an opaque future.  Of course, the future is unknowable, but that part of all of us that forms our vision of ourselves, our dreams for what we hope to become— that kept coming up blank.

But I had my BFA in Communication Design in hand.  I had to do something with it.  I had to do something or I’d be a failure, that thing I feared most.

I started working graphic design internships— even two at the same time, one five days a week from nine a.m. to five p.m. and the other three days a week from six p.m. to ten p.m..  I threw myself into the work, hoping that I could convince myself that design was really what I wanted to do with myself, when in reality, I was completely at a loss.

I did a brief stint in Atlanta, but quickly came back to St. Louis after a few months of being unable to find a job in design and being separated from any kind of friend or social network.  Again, I returned to working internships, still unsure of where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do.

Eventually, I got a design internship at the St. Louis Federal Reserve.  I was happy to have the job— it paid pretty well, and it was in the Public Affairs department, where I’d be able to gain more exposure to areas other than design.

Lesson 3: Always take advantage of the opportunities that will help you learn something new.

My job at the Fed was a turning point.  I was allowed to sit in on meetings, even taking an active role and sharing my ideas.  I got a taste of what it was like to talk about marketing strategy, event promotions and merchandise, campaign tactics.  It was the first time I was really able to see and discuss how my designs would function in a formal marketing environment.  I realized that I enjoyed those strategy meetings much more than sitting at my desk tweaking the kerning on a headline for the millionth time.

take advantage of opportuntiesI started to toy with the idea of going back to school for marketing.  As my internship with the Fed came to a close, as all internships do, I came to my final decision: I would return to school for a bachelor’s degree in business with a major in marketing at the University of Missouri St. Louis.  In my estimation, it would be a solid education for a price I could afford without going into debt.

I knew that to do that, I’d have to face my fear of math, my fear of failure.  I hadn’t taken a math class in five years.

Upon my acceptance to UMSL, I began by taking a fast-paced summer course designed to prepare me for the math placement exam, required for determining which math course was an appropriate starting point for each student.

Despite my nerves and a wasp that flew into the side of my head just before the exam started (it didn’t sting me, and I managed to kill it quickly), I did well and placed into the College Algebra class for the fall semester.

The rest of my schooling progressed smoothly enough from an academic perspective.  Even through personal struggles of various sorts, including my own health condition I’d been dealing with since 2009 and remediating surgery in my last semester, I graduated on May 18, 2014 with a BSBA in Marketing, Magna Cum Laude, Tau Sigma National Honor Society, and Alpha Mu Alpha National Marketing Honorary recognition.

Lesson 4: Success is a combination of effort, luck, and facing your fears.

As I look back over my education and my career path so far, I realize that the mistake I made was letting fear guide my decisions.  Since facing my fears, I’ve learned a few things about myself:

  • I’m pretty good at math
  • Statistics are actually okay
  • I write well
  • I actually like public speaking
  • Art is fun, but I need to feed my analytical side too
  • I can meet and beat a challenge

The more I think about it, the less my early decision to go to art school feels like a mistake.  Instead, my BFA helped lay the groundwork for dual degrees that put me at an advantage in my chosen field.  Marketing is a wonderful combination of creativity and analytics, and I’m so excited to have finally started.

About the Author

Erin BlumerI am a digital marketing professional at a small, SEO-driven firm. My daily activities include writing marketing copy with an eye toward SEO, analyzing data using Google Analytics or other programs, making the most of my Google AdWords certification, and consulting with companies to help their businesses grow and thrive.

My hobbies are diverse, and include illustration, design, photography, creative writing, camping and hiking, playing classical piano, and shooting competitive archery.

From: UMSL Digital Mindshare

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Do You Know Who Grace Murray Hopper Was?

Professor Vicki Sauter

 

Vicki L. Sauter
Professor of Information Systems

Have you been on campus studying and just need a break, but cannot think of anything to do?  Sure, you could go to the Millennium Center and get some food, or the gym and work out.  Or, you could go to art galleries on campus, such as Gallery Visio or Gallery 210.  But, you have done all those things before and you are looking for something new.  Well, come over to the second floor of Express Scripts Hall and see Grace’s Place.

Who is Grace and what’s at her Place? Grace’s Place is the only technology museum on campus . . . and some say even in St. Louis. Think about it, can you imagine not having your phone or tablet? Do you know why they are designed as they are, and how do they relate to those old things you see on Nickelodeon?

Do you know why we call mistakes in computers “bugs?” Do you know why we “dial” a phone? Do you know what is called the “Victorian Internet?” Do you know that computer chips are “grown,” not “made?” Have you ever seen a “gingerbread house” made out of computer parts? Did you know that Barbie was once cast as a systems engineer? Can you imagine creating art to represent parts of computers? Have you looked at how advertising of computing has changed over time? Or have you ever thought of how computers have been depicted on magazine covers over time? Grace’s Place provides a blend of the history of computing and the uses of computers in business in a unique way.

Grace’s Place started out “small,” with a few display cases and some wire shelves. We now have all of those things and more. We have a fairly complete set of early PC’s (including “clones”) and Apple products (anyone want to donate an Apple I to the collection?). But, we also have old “dumb” terminals and Heathkit analog computers. These things look like they belong in an old movie! We have modems from acoustic couplers to smart device modems, examples of tapes, cards, and a variety of disks, lots of CPUs, tubes, telephones, smart devices, and more. We have old minicomputers, terminals and decwriters, and the power cord, peripheral cords, and other components from an old mainframe, We have advertising from various eras, and posters. It is a museum in spirit, even if it is only a gallery in size.

This gallery is called “Grace’s Place” in honor of Grace Murray Hopper an early pioneer in computing, who is well-recognized for her work with the COBOL programming language. Without COBOL, computers would not have entered the business environment, and it still runs a significant number of major applications worldwide today.. She also is recognized as the originator of the idea of making computer languages accessible to people solving business problems. Grace Murray Hopper believed it was critical to educate young people, especially about computers, and this exhibit would do that.

However, perhaps the best reason to name it after Grace is because she understood the importance of making things simple when explaining complex topics, and found it useful to use tangible items to help with that explanation. We have an exhibit that can explain the “Hopper nanosecond” and why it is important.. We also have a replica of Dr. Hopper’s log book (the original of which is in the Smithsonian) that included a taped down moth that she found in the computer when she claimed the computer had a “bug.” Look also at the Time cover from January 23, 1950 which shows a stylized Mark III computer that happens to have a navy cap and sleeves (that I think gives a nod to Dr. Hopper).

Over the years, though, Grace’s Place has grown in depth too. One patron had a collection of typewriters that she donated as “predecessors to word processors,” and we added a collection of “computing devices,” including slide rules, calculators, abacus and a Marchand comptometer. You can spend a lot of time in Grace’s Place (and you are all invited to do so) because there is so much squeezed into a small space.

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The Digitization of Currency

Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing

 

Another disruption is about to occur.  Are you ready?  And it is going to effect how you and I will make purchases.

Apple Pay is about to allow us to quickly cross the chasm in terms of leaving our wallets and credit cards behind.  Apple will play a key role in moving the early majority to this new pay model relatively quickly.  Starbucks blazed the trail with their payment app a few years ago.  And, the early adopters of that technology (me included) embraced this new way of paying relatively quickly.  It felt cool.  It was cutting edge, whipping out our phone and paying for a Latte.  Us early adopters had also hoped it would have spread even more.  But to have an app for every retailer would be cumbersome and not manageable.


Apple Pay will solve this problem and I see this new technology propelling us forward in terms of digitizing currency.  And as this occurs, I wonder just how badly it will disrupt the Federal Reserve and what it will mean for Bitcoin.  Might currency disappear all together?  Will Apple Pay and Bitcoin compliment each other somehow in this new collaborative and sharing economy that appears to be emerging?  Maybe Apple Pay will help Bitcoin become more mainstream?  All are a real possibility.  I just get excited thinking about what all might transpire!

Let’s look at some interesting facts from Comscore, Digiday and Goldman Sachs to support what we are talking about:
  • A third of all online purchases are made with mobile devices.
  • Approximately 86% of our mobile time is through an app.
  • Online retail spending grew 14% last year.
  • Global e-commerce sales made via mobile devices are expected to top $638 billion in the U.S. by 2018.

So, when looking at those stats and projections above, keep in mind that they were all posted before the announcement of Apple Pay.  So I think we can see what this means for the future of a currency free society.  It will not be long.

Whether or not Apple Pay slays eBay’s new “One Touch PayPal” is not the point.  But what is certain is that Apple will in fact play a major role in this disruption that is about to occur and change the way we conduct e-commerce forever.  So I ask again, are you ready for this next big disruption that is about to occur?  I know I am and cannot wait.

I Would love to hear your thoughts about this topic and if you agree with me.

Perry

P.S.  Here are some links and articles of interest to share with you:

Drake, Perry. “Drake Direct Roundtable: The Digitization of Currency.” Drake Direct Roundtable: The Digitization of Currency. 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.

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How-To: Build Credibility through Social Media…For Your Personal Brand

What is credibility?

Credibility is the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest (Merriam-Webster, 2014).

Credibility is an important element to your personal brand because without credibility, people will not trust or believe in you. Social profiles, professional photography, Professional website, consistency, and an email signature are all ways to give your personal brand credibility. Social media is increasing in ways to building personal brand credibility. Some great ways to build your credibility are through blogging and social networks.

Blogging

Blogging is one great way to improve credibility. A blog is a site in which a person writes about personal experiences, opinions, and activities (Merriam-Webster, 2014). When starting a new blog, remember to keep consistency. Writing a blog post at least once a week on the same day is an easy way to begin. A great way to know what to blog on different days is with Message Placemat. Message Placemat is a website that helps you create a one page grid to identify a specific message for a target audience for any day of the week, month, or year. A blog is important so followers are able to ask questions and to keep them informed with updates and breaking news.Personal Branding

Personal Branding

Social network sites show how a person wants to be perceived and allows people to connect with one another through these sites. A large majority of people all around the world are on social networks. To build your credibility, being a part of social network sites are great to have. Some sites that are good to have are LinkedIn, which is a business-oriented social network, Facebook, which is a social-oriented social network, and twitter, which is also a social-oriented social network.

It is good to update your status regularly on these sites because not everyone will see each post. Posts should not be all about marketing otherwise followers may get annoyed and stop following you. Posting in discussion groups is also a great way to get people talking with you and possibly interested in you. You can add past projects to your profile to show people work you have completed. Adding projects can give people a sense of true and real work that you are capable of; giving you credibility. Having a professional photo for your social network profile will catch the eye before words will. A professional photo draws people in, while great content keeps them interested.

Blogs and social networks both should include testimonials. When a person sees a testimonial from other people, it shows you are honest, true, and real. In other words, you are credible. To build a database of testimonials all you need is to provide a quality product/service, and then customers, in most cases, will be more than willing to give you a testimonial if you ask.

To build your credibility through social media for your personal brand, remember to be honest and to be you. Being yourself is what will set you apart from everyone else. When you begin using social media be real, be honest, and be true to all.

Authors

This article was written by University of Missouri – St. Louis Social Media Marketing Undergraduate students Renee Richardson, Miquel Subira Ribas, Kyle Dermody, Kathleen Harris, and Martin Gwozdz.

From: UMSL Digital Mindshare

 

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The importance of internships for undergraduate students

Peggy Gilbertson
Internship Coordinator
UMSL |Business

 

Very few undergraduate students have jobs lined up while they are students unless they know they will work for a family business.  This is what makes getting involved in as many internships as possible while still a student so important.   Students should realize that they should start building that resume as soon as possible once they are in college in order to make them stand out and be put on the top of the stack when recruiters are comparing the dozens (or even hundreds) of resumes they may receive for one opening.

Statistics from the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) 2014 Internship & Co-op Survey indicate that the 67% of the graduating class of 2013 had at least one internship while in school and 32% had at least two. All students should want to be in that second group!  Many employers look at their internship class first when they are hiring since there is already a familiarity with the student.   This same survey states that 64.8% of employers made fulltime offers to their current interns.

Having the opportunity to work for an organization using skills learned in school while still in school is priceless.  The even better news is that almost all Business internships are paid, and those that aren’t are typically very flexible in working around a student’s schedule and other part-time job hours.  Even if an internship is not paid, the benefit is that you hopefully have a great reference for future jobs and an opportunity to get another internship that would be paid.  Students as early as sophomores can easily find unpaid internships which could lead to 2 or 3 more paid internships before they graduate.

Having “real world” experience not only makes a student more marketable but helps a student determine if they really are on the right career path.  I have seen many instances of students who report back to me after they have completed an internship that they are so glad they found out while still a student that the field they thought they wanted to get into is not what they really thought it would be.   If they still have several semesters left before graduation, it is much easier to change emphasis areas than having graduated and possibly having to return to school for another degree.

And to top it all off, many students are eligible to receive academic credit for an internship.  Who wouldn’t want to take one less class and not have homework and tests and in most cases get paid at the same time!

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Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan

 

Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing

 

The basic function of marketing as we know it has changed.  It is no longer acceptable to simply push out a message or grab someones attention with a catchy slogan.  You must be able to hold their attention.  It is all about creating content to engage the consumer.  This is where social media comes into play.

Many businesses both big and small fail at profiting from implementing a social media strategy.  Remember, social media isn’t a separate part of your marketing efforts. It must be integrated into your overall marketing strategy for social medial to be effective.

I have developed a simple 9 step process to consider when building any marketing plan and in particular a social media marketing plan (see Figure 1 below).

 Figure 1 Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Understanding Your Customers
Knowing your customers will help you assess the types of media to consider.  And, the emphasis to place on each.  Are your customers older?  Are they more likely female? Where are they likely to purchase/shop?

Where Are You Now?
Who are your competitors and what are they doing promotionaly.  What is their market share compared to yours.  What is your market potential?

A great blog article on helping you understand the steps to market sizing is:  The Ins and Outs of Sizing Your Market

Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Strengths – Do you have better customer service, better technology, bigger name recognition?
Weaknesses – Do you have fewer locations than your competitor, lower perceived value?
Opportunities – Are you moving into a unique and niche market?  Is your competitor less nimble and capable of change?
Threats – A new competitor could move in quickly, no patent, easy entry.

Check out the following article to help you lay out an effective SWOT analysis:  Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats

State Objectives
What are you trying to achieve here:

  • Increase the customer base
  • Increase sales
  • Reduce attrition
  • Enhance awareness

Know Your Audience
Detail your segments for targeting and the unique qualities of each regarding demographic, psycho- graphic and behavioral data.  This will be key to understanding the most appropriate social media strategy for each segment.

Select Your Social Media Channels
There are four dimensions you will need to consider here for purposes of building an effective strategy.

1.  What social media channels make the most sense for your segments? Consider setting a priority of which social media to implement first, second and third.  Especially if there are budget and resource constraints.  This is very important.  But, do NOT make the mistake of thinking you must be in every social media channel available.  Some may not make sense for your business model.

2.  Next think about if you will need a blog or a YouTube Channel?  There are many other beneftis to blogging such as SEO and link building.   Here is a great article by Search Engine Watch that may help:  Why Blog: The Benefits of Business Blogging for Visitors & Links

3.  What about gamification of your brand or service?  For example, badges for completing so many tasks.  Serves as a great retention tool. Check out this Mashable article:  How to Gamify Your Marketing

4,  And lastly, do you need to worry about monitoring ratings?  Do coupon sites make sense? What about social commerce?

Ensure a Good User Experience (UX)
As you lay out your plan, ensure you are representing the brand consistently across all channels both social, digital and traditional regarding the look, feel, price, options, etc.  You do not want to confuse the customer.  Be very deliberate here.

Regarding mobile, ensure your sites are working well in this environment with good responsive design and a supporting app if that makes sense.  Remember, we are using mobile and tablets at higher and higher rates every day to access the web.  So you need to be where your customers are.  And, you need to give them a good experience.  Consider this article to help you decide:  Mobile Site or Mobile App?

The Action Plan
Lay out every step to execute the plan identifying responsible parties and due dates.  Set your budget.  Do not forget the tools.  You will need tools to monitor your social efforts like Hootsuite. Additionally, to help you understand what percent of your budget should be allocated to social, use this calculator to help you get started:  Digital Marketing Budget Calculator

Monitor, Manage and Measure
Name one person to oversee the execution of the plan, hold regular update meetings.  And lastly, define how you will determine success of your efforts by establishing measurable KPI’s.

Hope you find this road map helpful.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers!
Perry D. Drake

Drake, Perry. “Drake Direct Roundtable: Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan.” Drake Direct Roundtable: Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan. N.p., 20 July 2014. Web. 28 July 2014. <http://www.drakedirect.blogspot.com/2014/07/developing-your-social-media-marketing.html>.

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Bremen – Summer 2014

Richard Navarro

 

Richard A Navarro
Assistant Teaching Professor of Information Systems

 

Bremen Germany may be best known to some of us as the Brothers Grimm fairytale home of a Donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster … the Bremen Musicians.
bremenBremen Germany is becoming well known as the home of the Hoschuler Bremen, a science and business oriented university and one of UMSL’s summer study abroad partner universities.

Summer 2014 saw thirteen UMSL students joining 165 other students from 33 countries who have come together with an international faculty as part of the Hochuler Bremen International Summer Institute K program. Our UMSL participants enrolled in courses varying from German culture and language to International Project Management.  The program offers students the opportunity to earn up to six credit hours, to interact with a truly global student body, to travel, and to grow.

Bremen itself is a medium sized city and, although 60 km from the North Sea, a major seaport.  It has a pleasant climate.  It has an active downtown area, modern shopping, covered pedestrian malls, and rathskellers and  restaurants, disco clubs and climbing walls. Class schedules are structured to afford maximum travel opportunities and Bremen  is connected to the rest of Germany and Europe by a fine, convenient, and easy to navigate rail system that well supports ones weekend travel plans, and … it is, in short, a fine place to spend a month..

Interested?   Contact Dr. Rottmann to see if there is Germany in your future.

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Even at the beginning of their career, employees should save for retirement

Greg Geisler

 

Greg Geisler, PhD, CPA
Associate Professor of Accounting

 

According to a recent study titled “Retirement Account Options When Beginning a Career” by Gregory Geisler, associate professor of accounting at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Jerry Stern, professor of accounting at Indiana University-Bloomington, which appeared in the May, 2014 issue of the “Journal of Financial Service Professionals” and was recently highlighted in an article in USA Today, the coauthors said there is a three-step decision-making hierarchy to follow. “This hierarchy is what will make the individual wealthiest after considering taxes,” Geisler told USA Today.

Those steps include:

1st) Contributing enough to their employer-sponsored retirement account (e.g., 401(k), 403(b)) to receive the maximum matching contribution from their employer. Some employers offer a Roth retirement account and for new employees starting their careers who plan to save throughout their careers for retirement, this is the best option. Even if your employer does not offer the Roth option, still contribute enough to your 401(k) (or 403(b)) to receive the maximum employer match.

2nd) If the new employee still has funds available to fund retirement accounts after following the first step, contribute to a Roth IRA because the investment choices available are much larger than inside an employer-sponsored retirement account. For 2014, federal tax law allows a maximum of $5,500 to be contributed by an employed individual under age 50 to their IRA accounts. The second step can be skipped if the new employee likes the investment choices available inside their employer-sponsored retirement account.

3rd) If the new employee still has funds available to fund retirement accounts, make unmatched contributions to their 401(k) (or 403(b)). Again, if the Roth 401(k) (or Roth 403(b)) option is available, that is recommended. For 2014, federal tax law allows a maximum of $17,500 to be contributed by an employee under age 50 to their 401(k) (or 403(b)) accounts, although some employer’s plans may not allow that much.

“For investments in Roth retirement accounts, regardless of whether tax rates are rising, falling or remaining constant over time, employees can depend on their annualized after-tax rates of return and future after-tax values to be unaffected by their changing marginal tax rates,” Geisler and Stern wrote in their study.

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Embrace the disruption, don’t fight it!

Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing

 

I bet you are feeling the disruption due to technology advances either in your personal life or workplace?  Am I correct?  And I bet you are feeling overwhelmed at times by these disruptions?  Yes?  Trying to stay on top of the latest computer advances, technologies, medias, communication vehicles, apps, mobile devices, advances in tracking software, and online security issues is not easy to say the least.

Well, don’t feel alone.

We are all feeling the impact here.  But here is the deal…embrace these disruptions and adapt and become stronger as a result or as a business you will be out on the streets.  These advances are not likely to slow down any time soon, guaranteed.

Two months ago I was invited to speak on the uses of social media and digital technologies at an AGTA (Airport Ground Transportation Association) conference being held in Clearwater Florida.  And, I was honored to have been asked.

Listening to the 3 keynote speakers prior me going on stage, I heard fear and anger from the AGTA about Lyft and Uber who are infringing on cab and livery drivers turf at airports, hotels, and about town.  I heard them talk about the poor quality of the Uber driver and how they are not licensed, or insured in some cases, or have criminal records.  They went on for over an hour.  I felt hatred, anger, confusion and many emotions pouring out of them that morning during the keynote.  But you know what, I get it.  They are being disrupted by technology.  Just the latest victim due to technological advances.  I totally get it.  But talking badly about Uber or Lyft is not going to make it all go away.  The consumer has spoken.  And they love the ability to open an app, click and have a car at their door.  And, in this day and age of social media, the consumer is in complete control.  The tables have turned.  So, when I got up to start my talk I told them not to feel alone.  I told them they are not the only ones feeling the pains and sense of confusion.  We all are, even us academics like myself.  Yes, even academics.

In case you did not realize we academics are undergoing a major disruption in the University setting.  MAJOR!  In academia we are being disrupted by what we call MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses.  Courses that are being offered online for free and in some cases full semester courses.  Khan Academy and Coursera are just two such web sites offering these courses from universities like Rutgers and Harvard.  Many universities like mine do not know what to do.  The way we deliver content to students is changing and changing quickly and if we do not adapt we will have no students to teach.   It is that simple.  I cannot tell you how many committees I am on right now dealing with this issue.  But you know what, I love it.  I, like many of my peers, are embracing the challenge and trying to figure out how we can make education more affordable, convenient and a better overall experience for the students all due to technological advances.

Brands too have and are feeling the pain.  Because of social media, they have lost the ability to simply push out a message and expect us consumers to passively accept that message as fact.  Now us consumers have the control.  We can tell our friends what we think of the brand, their products and the type of customer support (good or poor) we receive.  Brands have totally had to change the way they interact with us consumers as a result of social media all caused by advances in mobile technology.  And, those brands that do not understand this simple fact, well, will be left out in the cold.

But two of the the biggest disruptions I can think of were (1) Naspter and (2) travel agencies.

Napster, although what they were doing was illegal, totally changed the way music was purchased and delivered and consumed.  Probably one of the largest disruptions out there due to advances in technology.

And what about the once vibrant travel agency business model.  Remember them?  Or maybe you don’t.  In this case it was the adoption of the Internet alone that changed that business model and killed off travel agencies (except for those dealing with exotic vacations).  Apps or mobile had nothing to do with this feat.  Travelocity, Kayak and others killed the travel agency businesses.  Wow, not that is a disruption.

So Mr Cab Driver we are all being disrupted.  You are not alone.  You (and all of us) have two choices.  Either site back and fight it and lose or, embrace all that technology can bring and use it to our full advantage to build even a better business model.  The later will be more fun and give much better odd of success.  Guaranteed.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Perry D. Drake
Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing,
University of Missouri – St. Louis
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Email:  drakep@umsl.edu
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pddrake
Linkedin Profile:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/perry-drake/40/47/936
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Drake, Perry. “Drake Direct Roundtable.” Drake Direct Roundtable. N.p., 25 June 2014. Web. 26 June 2014. <http://drakedirect.blogspot.com/>.

 

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