Industries across the board are undergoing structural change. This change extends beyond individual firms and spills across industrial sectors. Some industries that have been exposed to the tide of technology-driven structural changes have harnessed technology to reinvent themselves as new industries befitting this evolution in industrial structure. The financial industry traditionally has been far from the vanguard of this change.
The proliferation of the Internet and digital technologies is only accelerating the evolutionary shift across all industries. This stands in stark contrast to the traditional non-modular, vertically integrated structure (where all the products and services are provided through and within one exclusive value chain) that the industry has historically embraced. However, disruptive new market players have visibly forced conservative, existing entities to begin to seek new approaches; at the same time, regulatory authorities have started to embark on establishing a new, more robust system for regulating the financial industry.
The hotel industry offers a prime example of modularization on the demand side. Today, hotels, as well as the entire travel industry, offer consumers the experience of comparison shopping across service, price, and quality. Celent refers to this phenomenon as modular demand.
Modularization on the supply side is perhaps best exemplified by the aviation industry. The aircraft industry intrinsically does not lend itself to being a self-contained business, relying on a variety of actors to make, operate, and commercialize aircraft. Technological innovation, deregulation, and cost pressures transformed the airline industry, spurring it to evolve into a quintessential modular structure on the supply side.
This modularization goes beyond the industry infrastructure that includes airports and ground facilities. All components of the value chain — from in-flight services such as meals and movies to ground services such as boarding and baggage handling, as well as aircraft maintenance, flight plans, management, pilots, and cabin attendants — are now all subject to external procurement. The airline business now hinges on corporate management’s adeptness at forging and managing alliances. At Celent, we refer to this phenomenon as modular supply.
Today’s music industry showcases some of the greatest modular advancements. On the demand side, the industry saw a shift in the listening experience, as consumers moved from CDs to online downloads and streaming. Dramatic technological advancements have enabled music distribution sites and social networking services to tailor recommendations to users, offering songs and videos to suit music preferences and enabling consumers to search for, purchase, and enjoy music in real time.
On the supply side, record labels and their vertically integrated model were initially largely blindsided by innovation because musicians no longer needed to rely exclusively on CD sales or being scouted, signed, recorded, and promoted by record companies. The ensuing change saw a shift to a new model where a diverse range of artists recorded themselves and harnessed social media and trendsetters to promote their colorful charm and generate fans. Both the supply and demand sides of the music industry value chain underwent a dramatic upheaval that shook the industry and spawned a more dynamic and open industry. This resulted in a new life for the music industry that relegated the CD and conventional business practices of music labels to history.
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