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In part one of the Adapt or Die blog series, we discussed companies that failed to move with the times and suffered as a result. You don’t need to be a former CEO of Blockbuster to know that keeping an eye on the future is an essential aspect of both maintaining market share and growing a successful company. South Africa is the ideal breeding ground for innovation too, which is exactly why we need to promote technological advancement. Don’t sit on the cusp of greatness, actively pursue it, improve the lives of your customers and they will reward you with loyalty. Think beyond last year’s tech stack, listen to the changing market, and you will attract the talent that will help you transform your business and get that edge over your competitors.

Success Comes to Those Who Lead

What’s most comforting to know is that where so many others have failed, there are companies who have not only stood the test of time but they have grown, evolved and rolled with the punches. In the face of naysayers, it was the pioneers who took risks and found an opportunity where others found instability. Beyond even early adoption, the real innovators heralded the change that their users and customers so desperately needed and could find nowhere else. Of these innovators just two of the most memorable and exciting are Nintendo and Facebook; possibly because they are rooted in entertainment in some form or another. Let’s take a closer look…

The Nine Lives of Nintendo

We all remember the first Nintendo gaming console, Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong right? What you may not know though is that Nintendo started as a small Japanese playing card company. The company which is so deeply rooted in innovative technology today is well over 100 years old! Nintendo’s produced Hanafuda cards, much the same as the standard western 52 card deck. By 1953 Nintendo was the first company to produce plastic playing cards. The company continued to evolve as the family-run business sought to distance the company from the gambling origins of card games to Disney clad playing cards which could be enjoyed by the whole family.

Nintendo Explores New Avenues and Diversifies

Never one to stagnate, Nintendo set up several other experimental businesses with the view to expand the Nintendo empire. Among those companies were a taxi company, a hotel chain, a line of toys and even a food company amongst other things. Whilst the other businesses failed, they continued to successfully make and sell toys. In 1964 Nintendo playing cards reached market saturation and toys became their primary venture.

Nintendo Succeeds in the Toy Industry

By 1966 Nintendo was carving its own (albeit small) path in the toy industry when they began producing electronic toys – a precursor to electronic games. The company expanded rapidly and by 1972 they had created the first commercially available video game console. The rest is all electronic gaming history and forms the most memorable aspects of our childhoods. Nintendo has continued to grow and grace the gaming industry with many firsts while carefully maintaining the balance between innovation and improvement.

Finding Facebook

You know you had a great childhood if you were able to indulge in the electronic spoils of Nintendo’s gaming systems whilst your teenage lapses in judgement remained as yet undocumented on the internet. Facebook changed all of that though. Launched in February 2004; originally known as ‘The Facebook’, had 1 200 users within the first 24 hours. The steady growth of the social network ensured its use beyond universities and high schools. By 2005 the social network was in use in the UK and around the globe and by 2007 a large portion of South Africans ditched their MySpace accounts in favour of the smoother, cleaner and faster social network.

• By late 2007 it had 100 000 business pages
• By the 26th of August 2008, Facebook had over 100 million users across the globe
• By September 2009 Facebook turned a positive cash flow for the first time owing to advertising revenue.
• By February 2011 Facebook was the largest online photo host

The steady growth of Facebook can be attributed to the continued iterations and amendments made to the platform and the algorithm to continually improve the user experience. As with any software, website or even hardware, progression is essential.

Facebook Relies on Whitespace Management

The biggest difference between Facebook and its counterparts comes down to management style. Mark Zuckerberg does not rely on rules, plans or forecasting. The reasoning is simple, why try be smarter than users? He aimed to add, create and do whatever it was that the users needed in order for the social network to flourish without prejudice. Forecasting just isn’t as successful when you are working in a high growth market.

Today Facebook has grown to become bigger than a social network. During this time one of Facebook’s biggest competitors; MySpace, stagnated and failed to react timeously to the needs of the market. Facebook continued to find new ways to be of use to users and as such became a one-stop social network for users far and wide.

So what is it that your company needs in order to grow? Are you agile, are you leading rather than following? In part three of this three-part series, we discuss how to make the changes your company needs in order to be on the vanguard of your industry. A speedy reaction to the needs of the marketplace is essential in order to survive. At e-Merge, we believe that some of the biggest innovation problems can be resolved by hiring the right people. Find out how to prevent stagnation and how to hire for change and innovation in part three of this series.