(By Jennifer A. Shutwell, CEO of Walters & Shutwell Inc.)
For many, 2007 was a landmark year on multiple fronts. This was the year before the global recession of 2008. Apple released the iPhone, the Dow edged over 14,000, and the print industry had a vision of a Print 2.0 renaissance brewing.
Print leaders spent the year predicting rapid sales growth for devices that printed directly from the internet. And by the end of 2007, you might have thought the Print 2.0 vision was a sure thing, judging by the record breaking sales numbers. But as it turns out, the successes of 2007 were a mirage of sorts.
According to Photizo Group’s revenue results of the top 10 print firms combined, the 4th quarter of 2007 generated the highest amount of revenue ever recorded in the industry. Since that peak, however, the industry has faced a significant headwind, with declining revenues, fewer hardware sales and a lessened supply need.
Today, it’s easy to see that internet printing was swept away with the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices. This adoption trend shows no sign of slowing down – according to Ericsson, the world’s largest supplier of mobile networks, there were 1.9 billion smartphone subscribers across the world at the end of 2013. That number is expected to reach 5.9 billion in just five years. That’s 85 percent of humanity, mobile and connected to each other, illustrating the increasing importance of information mobility. And as these devices transform, advance and improve with ever-increasing speed, the predictions of 2007—as well as the idea of printing on paper—seems even further left behind.
So what lessons can we take from the misguided predictions of 2007? And how can we make sure we don’t make the same mistakes, while also avoiding making new ones? Here are a few lessons learned from 2007 that are worth considering:
Accelerated rates of change
The rate of change in the workplace is accelerating to a point where predictions of what could happen next are unreliable, unless you have a deep understanding and knowledge of where and why this prediction was made. As a business practice, have the tools and processes in place to monitor and manage your business in ways that inform you of trends, and align them toward your business goals and purpose.
The peak performance of the Dow, the internet, or your business’ past performance are not adequate indicators of what’s coming next. In this new world of work, the more that your people are empowered to make smart decisions and act quickly and decisively when confronted with changing and unexpected trends, the stronger your bottom line will be.
Human engagement is an imperative
At the end of each day, we are all human, with nearly unlimited potential to have breakthrough ideas and make decisions that can have stunning results. And you need to keep that in mind when considering your changing workforce.
Read about the 10 Traits of the Best Places to Work and Gallup’s research on people engagement. Engagement now is more essential than ever before. Increasing or decreasing engagement can have a dramatic influence on the sustainability of the workplace.
Looking back at 2007, some of you (like myself) were simply naive to think that people, businesses and competitors would continue behaving in ways as they had in the past. Technology ended up dramatically changing the way that we worked. And it will continue transforming work in ways that we can only begin to imagine.
How does your experience working in 2007 compare to now? Better yet, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned?
Jennifer A. Shutwell is CEO of Walters & Shutwell Inc. and an accomplished business executive with more than 20 years of experience in the imaging and printing industry. From running her own consulting company, to managing customer relationships for large organizations, Jennifer is skilled with simplifying the complex and assisting with transformation strategies.