Why does innovation often come from outsiders to an industry? The question intrigues me, in part because I was once an outsider to the MICE industry. Before moving into events, I spent a decade working in corporate America in various roles (finance, operations and compliance). So, by taking an outsider’s point of view, let’s see what innovations we are likely to see in the MICE industry in the near future.
Eliminate Your Job
Early in my career I had a manager make a statement that has had a lasting impact: “If you want to ensure you always have a job, eliminate your job.” The point was: In order to thrive in a competitive market, we must constantly innovate. If we are slow to innovate, someone else will at our expense. Often, that disruption will come from someone not expected to make a change, to create a product, or start a business or service.
A Potent Example
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 and made an immediate impact on how books were distributed. Bezos had no background in distribution, was not an author or publisher, and had never worked in a bookstore or for the postal service. Yet, as an outsider, he saw an opportunity to change a stagnant industry.
Surely a bookstore, a publisher, a librarian or an author should have seen the possibility of the industry evolving with the advent and adoption of the internet. Why was someone without any experience the one to change the industry?
Amazon has since transformed technology, retail, distribution and, most recently, how likely we are to make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.
Bezos via Amazon is an example of a continuing crusade to eliminate clients’ needs for current products and services by innovating and providing better products and services—even at the expense of cannibalizing current revenue. Amazon released the Kindle in November 2007, which essentially eliminated the need to purchase books from the retailer that were delivered through the mail, thus reducing sales for that division. Customers benefited from instantly receiving content and Amazon created a new division, which has evolved and further driven growth for the company while keeping pressure on competitors to catch up rather than take the lead on innovation.