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Thursday, November 20, 2008

We all know that the world is changing.

We all know that the world is changing. There’s economic change, which is in the headlines every day. There are industrial changes, as the nation and even the world grapples with what kind of change should be facilitated, and what kind should be left to evolve on its own. There’s environmental change, though there are some people still don't believe in it. And there’s technological change, which we can see all around us.

The thing is, we all know that these and other changes are taking place…but I wonder how may times we wander by the clues and signposts and don't pay attention…and maybe even act as if the status quo still existed.

Give you an example. Last Sunday, Mrs. Content Guy and I were doing a little early Christmas shopping, and she pulled me into one of those stores that only gets opened during the holidays and that sells calendars with a wide variety of themes for the coming year. We started to thumb through the selection, looking for something that might appeal to the kids, when I looked at her and said, “Wait a minute. Our kids don't use paper calendars. They have cellphones and computers for that.”

She looked at me quizzically and said, “Y’think?”

And I responded: “When was the last time you used a paper calendar?”

Advantage, Kevin. (That doesn’t happen very often, let me tell you.) We walked out, and went to a store that seemed more relevant.

By the way, a note here to any parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles thinking of buying calendars for…well, anyone under the age of 65. Don't do it, unless the person being given the gift is Amish. Do it, and you immediately label yourself an old fogey.

There are other examples, some of which have been cited here before, of things that many of us take for granted as being part of our lives that young people have little or no use for. Wristwatches, for example. I feel naked without one on my wrist, but most kids just use their cellphones. Or paper phone books, which are completely irrelevant to an online society. Think how many trees we’ll save when we can stop printing those babies. CDs…which young people never buy because they simply download their music. And I suspect it won’t be long before DVDs go the same way, replaced by downloading services that will be faster, cheaper and of higher quality. And it was just a few weeks ago that I told you how my new Kindle has replaced the physical book, and can, if I want it to, replace the newspaper or a wide variety of magazines.

The big question is this: How are you gearing up your business not just to face, but embrace these changes?

Give you an example of a food company that is doing so…

Domino’s Pizza has established an alliance with the folks at TiVo, the digital video recording service, that will allow people to order directly from their local Domino’s via the television while you are watching TV. It is just another menu item on the screen…I can record one thing, watch another, schedule other recordings for coming weeks, and order a large pepperoni with extra cheese.

Talk about one-stop shopping. Y’think kids aren’t going to take to this like a duck to water?

They won’t find it to be cool, by the way. They’ll just see it as an expected and intuitive use of technology that makes sense and makes their lives a little simpler.

Now, to be fair, the Wall Street Journal story about the Domino’s-TiVo deal notes that the pizza retailer has, in fact, been slow to take advantage of the possibilities offered by cell phones and the Internet. But this is a good way to catch up. Fast. It is only one way, however, and Domino’s better have a lot of irons in the technology fires if it is going to remain relevant for the next generation of consumers.

So next time you check your watch to see what time it is, consult a calendar hanging on the wall to see if you have any plans, and then look in the Yellow Pages to order a pizza that you can eat while watching a DVD, keep one thing in mind.

You are standing on the precipice of obsolescence.

Careful. Don’t fall.

For MorningNewsBeat Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.

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