Are you on a “Burning Platform”?

“There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.”

This was written by Stephen Elop the new CEO of Nokia as reported in Engadget on 8 Feb 2011. It is part of a remarkably frank internal memo to employees that has been leaked out to the tech media. See Engadget for the complete memo.Burning Oil Platform

The key part to me, and perhaps also the relevant part to you, is this paragraph,

“The battle of devices [mainly smartphones] has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.”

Which is the approach I agree with

But from a wine store perspective.

Rather than being a wine store, a retailer, a wine expert, a marketing expert, a capable tech user, a good sharer of info and knowledge: in wine forums, wine blogs, on facebook and twitter … a good wine store is a mixture of all these and more.

It sits astride the new wine ecosystems that are spreading around the world and around the internet – but bringing the best of those back to your local customers.

Wine stores and “burning platforms”

To go back to the Nokia CEO’s analogy, many retailers are sitting on burning platforms.

Of course eCommerce is a step in the right direction but its not enough.

Wine consumers are also using various internet services, before deciding where to buy wine from. They are using mobile apps, social media and local internet based information to make their choices about what and where they’ll buy wine.

Then they’ll walk into a wine store (only about 8% will buy online).

Will it be yours?

Or are you on a burning platform? One which relies on foot traffic, old media and word of mouth alone to get their foot in the door. Even one which only relies on SEO and poor websites.

If so it may be time to take the 30m plunge into freezing waters.

Photo courtesy of: WA Today.

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