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Business Disruption in 2013: Say Hello to the Comeback Kids

In recent years we’ve seen outside disruption take its toll on companies of all sizes, types and reputations–Kodak, Borders and Blockbuster to name a few of the more tragic examples. The combination of today’s power shifts and increasing speed of innovation has forced many a leader into an anxiety-ridden headspace, and they often make all the wrong innovation moves as a result. After all, everyone knows once you’ve been outdone by a cleaner, sleeker, social capabilities-wielding digital powerhouse, you can’t come back.

Or can you?


After five CEO changes in five years, thousands of layoffs and the massive shadow of Google cast in every which way, it was easy to assume Yahoo! was on its way out. Luckily, the company has found new life with ex-googler Marissa Mayer in the lead seat.

The former darling of the interwebs is fighting its way back tooth and nail with a heavy emphasis on mobile, including its new and improved Flickr app. This is particularly notable when you consider Instagram, an app that managed to dance circles around its predecessors, impress Facebook enough to garner a 1 billion dollar acquisition deal, and seemingly secure its spot in the limelight of the photo-sharing crowd for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to Yahoo!, we’re learning that the foreseeable future isn’t as sturdy as once thought. Granted, Yahoo! struck while Instagram was in the middle of a particularly vulnerable moment (that whole Privacy Policy debacle), but it also had the right supporting features–and get this: most of them were pre-existing.

In addition to a picture-taking app that packs filters many prefer to Instagram’s offerings, the new Flickr mobile app plays nice with all the kids–iOS, Android, Facebook and Twitter included. It also links to storage, which is key because storage means there’s an actual stream of revenue happening, which is something Instagram has yet to drum up.

The Library

If someone told me last week that libraries were making a comeback, I’d probably laugh a sad little laugh and give them a hug. As a writer and a reader, libraries are the equivalent of heaven to me, but we all know e-books and coffee shops are way more appealing to the masses, right?

Not according to New York Public Radio, which recently reported that the citizens of New York are spending more time in libraries than ever. Accordingly, both the Brooklyn Public Library and the New York Public Library are undergoing a slew of renovations.

“People are using Starbucks in much the same way that we want them to use the library,” explained Linda Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library. “[Starbucks has] made these very comfortable environments where people are now aggregating…they’re meeting, they’re holding business meetings there…”

The libraries of New York are moving in the same direction through the addition of public access computers and conference rooms, as well as digital recording studios and even a classroom. You see, the teams behind these libraries understand that the focus should still be on access to education and environments where you can concentrate. Add a cafe and I’d say the new world of libraries is set.

The New Disruption

All this isn’t to say you should stop worrying about disruption–if you don’t disrupt your own business, someone will certainly do it for you (our own CEO even says so). But there is a little ray of hope to be found in the realization that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and a lot of the time the past really counts for something. Other examples: the widespread panic that occurred when Hostess took a dive was incredible. And Barbie? She’s survived the Bratz wave with dozens of career changes. Word on the street also says Furbys are making a comeback, and our own team at Mindjet recently discussed Nintendo’s efforts to stay in the game. Oh nostalgia, we just can’t seem to quit you.

I’ll leave you with this quote from George Lois: “If you want to do something sharp and innovative, you have to know what went on before. Museums are custodians of epiphanies, and these epiphanies enter the central nervous system and deep recesses of the mind.”

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