January 11, 2007

"Either Get On The Train, Or Get Out Of The Way"

Those were the words of noted blogger Jeremiah Owyang, a very bright and intelligent individual, when talking about a journalist feeling frustration over the conflict between journalism and blogging. Jeremiah's advice is to "either get on the train, or get out of the way".

In multichannel retailing, a similar phenomenon is occurring to the one Jeremiah references. A generation of employees who developed their skills in the world of catalogs are being phased out by Google and the magic of online retailing. No longer is it necessary to send a 148 page catalog to a customer, when you can simply intercept the customer at her time of need by allowing Google to broker a fair competition between online retailers.

The catalog expert is in a similar situation to the journalist that Jeremiah describes. Over the past decade, her profession was consumed by an economic version of Darwinian evolution. Her skills, once so important, must evolve for her to remain relevant.

If you have the battle scars of an individual who went through the type of economic transition that Jeremiah describes, what did you do to make the transition occur? Did you get on the train, did you get out of the way, or did you allow the train to run you over?

Let's hope that the current generation of online marketers, social media experts, and online strategists are ready to make the same type of transition when the next version of the internet consumes the very industries they currently promote. Since everything is happening faster and faster, the lights on the next train are already approaching.