Change is the status quo
by Callum Murray
‘Change is the status quo’ in the sports and media industries and ‘disruption is the new normal’, a new report claims. So how can companies adapt? Author
12th June 2019, 12:42

“Executing on ambitious innovation plans is hard. There’s a shortage of talent with everyone competing for the brightest minds and those that can take a ‘portfolio view’, combining strategic understanding and vision with successfully bringing ideas to market.” Ryan Paterson, chief global officer, STATS

“Booming levels of innovation” are disrupting the old ways of doing business and promoting new, more efficient methods, according to ‘Innovation Study 2019: Change is the status quo. Are you ready?’, a new report by SRI, the global executive search firm, in partnership with Springwise, the innovation intelligence firm.

“This is no cyclical blip; there is no way back to ‘how things were’,” the report continues. “The majority (63 per cent) describe levels of disruption as ‘high’ or ‘highest it’s ever been’, and over three quarters (77 per cent) agree that the pace of change is only accelerating.”

The research is based on:

1. A global online study of 348 global executives, most of which hold the top or very senior roles within their businesses, with the majority working across the converging media, content, technology and sport landscape, and also from other consumer facing industries such as retail and financial services.

2. Interrogating Springwise’s global database of 10,000 innovations.

3. Interviewing seven leaders at the forefront of innovation to add additional perspectives and insight.

The report finds that “consumers are in the driving seat,” with changing consumer behaviours and demands rated as the top driver of innovation in the survey. It quotes one executive as saying, “We are in the age of the ‘prosumer’” (professional consumer), with customers having the whip hand – and technology giving them the power to wield it.

The report says: “The impact of changing customer behaviour is being felt in different ways. For example, one respondent reported ‘being ahead of the curve and anticipating what customers want next, so we proactively adapt, and not react’. Another spoke of the need for greater transparency in the age of the ‘prosumer’. For another, the biggest effect was from changing patterns of media consumption and ‘a generational shift in people’s willingness to pay for content’.

The research found that consumers are in the driving seat
 

The report set out to find whether the executives studied “felt emboldened by change or fearful about the future.” It concludes that, “Far from being fearful, leaders we talked to are bullish about the future. Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) said they embraced change as a net positive for their organisations, and more than half reported that they are thriving in a rapidly-changing environment.”

Describing this as “perhaps the most surprising – and affirming – theme to emerge from the data,” the report claims that: “Contrary to the idea that industry leaders are negative about change, most see it as a good thing and are excited about the possibilities.”

However, there are as many losers as winners in the new competitive landscape, the report finds, citing half of the study’s respondents who agreed they were ‘disrupting the industry in which they compete’, together with almost the same number who felt they had been ‘significantly disrupted by competitors or by external industry trends.’

The report cautions that the two categories overlap, arguing: “Disruption is fluid and disruptors quickly become disrupted if they stand still. The need for continual self-disruption has never been more pronounced.”

The report also finds that the overwhelming majority (80 per cent) of respondents feel confident in their vision for innovation, but only 57 per cent agree that they have the right skills to execute their strategy. “Tellingly,” the report continues, “every single respondent who felt ‘very negative’ about the change affecting their business also reported that they did not have the right skills.”

Typically, innovation strategy starts at the top, the report finds, with the chief executive and board considered to be more than twice as influential with respect to innovation within their company than the chief marketing officer or chief technology officer.

However, the report concludes, “a CEO cannot drive innovation alone and needs the right self-disruptors to deliver an agreed vision.”

Innovation case studies

The report scoured over 10,000 innovations from around the world in a bid to identify trends across the entertainment industry. Ten are cited in the report, including:

Soccer team goes virtual to attract fans Recognising China’s huge potential for market growth last year, with 60 per cent of the population expressing an interest in football, Manchester City, the English Premier League champions, launched an online team for the Fifa video game, the first Premier League club to do so.

Two-thirds of Chinese soccer fans who follow European teams intend to buy products from a club’s official sponsor, according to a 2017 Red Card+ report, while more than half consider sponsoring brands to be highly influential as a result of their partnerships with the clubs.

Manchester City recognised China's potential with a Fifa video game team
 

The report argues: “This means that not only will clubs who expand into China have access to an enormous market, but brands associated with those clubs will be able to capitalise on this growth. This will include eSports, which is expected to generate revenues of $210 million in 2019, making this the second-largest global region in terms of revenue. Linking sports and eSport through China could create a generation of a globally engaged fan base.”

Partnership pioneers cryptocurrency baseball game for sports fans Major League Baseball and blockchain game studio Lucid Sight have teamed up to develop a blockchain game, called MLB Crypto Baseball, the first blockchain game based on a global sports league with the aim of boosting fan engagement.

As in the popular blockchain game CryptoKitties, players compete to acquire Cryptos, officially-licensed, digital sports collectables commemorating well-known people or moments in baseball history. The Cryptos can also be sold or traded within the game.

The report comments: “This MLB game could well bring the use of blockchain and cryptocurrency into the mainstream of sports memorabilia collectibles. At the same time, the implementation of blockchain could be extended to other sports and entertainment uses. Other uses of blockchain that are currently in the works include securing ticket sales and preventing scalping; decentralising ticket resales and ticket sharing. Blockchain technology could also ensure the authenticity of official sports brands and allow ordinary people to invest in up-and-coming players in exchange for a share of their future earnings.”

Start-up offers sports fans unique experiences FAN+, a start-up in Sydney, Australia, offers experiences such as playing golf and eating lunch with former Manly Sea Eagles captain Steve Menzies, and travelling to a game with the Central Coast Mariners. Experiences vary widely in price, with some experiences as low as A$250 ($175). The start-up takes a 30-per-cent cut of all sales, and most experiences are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. 

The report comments: “For clubs and personalities, FAN+’s centralised marketplace offers a new revenue stream and an extension to their sales teams. Although FAN+’s target market is people who are willing to pay a premium fee for the experience of a lifetime, the same model could be extended to other activities and market segments. For example, a chance to see how a favourite product is manufactured, or how a video is shot. The marketplace concept could also be expanded globally, to sell sports experiences around the world, perhaps in collaboration with travel companies.

The report concludes with the following ‘Ten Tenets for Successful Innovation’ which it says are intended as a start point for discussion:
 

1. Lead from the top With the right senior management team. How often is innovation on the Board meeting agenda?

2. Disrupt Regardless of where your business is on the maturity curve. What are you doing to create the next big idea?

3. Cross-pollinate Across teams in your organisation and between your business and other businesses. How are your marketing and IT teams encouraged to collaborate to create new ideas, for example?

4. Staff for tomorrow What are the skills you need in your business to succeed in 2020?

5. Fail fast Does your culture encourage or even allow calculated risk taking?

6. Cultivate diversity of thought Beyond gender. Beyond race. Are you blending styles, socio-economic backgrounds to prevent group-think?

7. Take technology off the pedestal How are you ensuring people reign supreme in your organisation? Especially in tech businesses.

8. Growth mind-set Is your team continually learning?

9. Be agile Is your business structured to flex?

10. Future focus How are you anticipating future customer demands and trends?

For more information on the report, click here.

Sportcal