Since leaving Microsoft just under 18 months ago, I've worked with a number of incumbent organizations to help them modernize their businesses with Web 2.0 themes:  social media, real-time, self-serve, collaboration, etc. I've worked with government folks, people in local media companies, publishers, consulting firms, major technology companies, auto manufacturers, etc. on consulting projects, social media implementations, new workflows/company policy, new business opportunities, and initiatives to improve efficiency.  I've spoken at industry events as a presenter, a panelist, and a moderator.

All these experiences have led me to believe that in business today, there is a big and increasing gap between "believers" and "non-believers" in change/modernization.

I would be painting with a broad brush if I were to say it is a generational gap.  It isn't at all.  Nor is it just a social media or Web 2.0 thing.  It's bigger than that.  It's generally a gap between folks who see that now, more than ever, business moves too fast to not think critically and make quick adjustments to take advantage of trends that will ultimately impact both the top and bottom line.

Let's step back and look at what is happening broadly in the economy.  Despite the rosy predictions, the fact is consumers are revisiting their personal spending today.  If we are going to even remotely revert to mean levels of debt in society, it will be at least a 3-5 year trend — not just a mere blip on the radar.  Mish Shedlock touches on this theme of the Age of Frugality repeatedly in his fantastic blog that I highly recommend.  Like it or not, America (and the World for that matter) is going on a diet.  Collectively, we mortgaged the future for the present… and the future is now.

With lower consumer spending, there are increasing pressures to do more with less inside the corporation and perhaps redefine business for the future.  In this sense, big institutions of all kinds really have a lot more in common than
anyone really thinks.  I touched on this a few months ago when I said
that Microsoft's problems and those faced by the newspaper industry are
pretty much the same, but today I'd say that large incumbents in a variety of industries are all in the same situation.

I don't know what to make of it just yet, nor do I know exactly how to profit from it at this moment.  But I've never seen people so divided in large organizations as they seem to be today — people who bring about change vs. people who want to maintain the status quo.  I see a new example of it almost every day.

We are indeed living in an unprecedented
time when the business landscape will be shaken to its core… where
businesses will be redefined… where new brands will thrive… where old ones will fizzle… and where a lot of companies that can't adapt
intelligently with limited information will die.  Now if someone could just tell us all what "adapt intelligently" means, we'd all be OK. 😉

But there are no answers and there is not enough data to tell you exactly what to do.  There won't be — technology, innovation, and advancement are by definition impossible to project into the future.  You have to feel your way through the jungle.