Business acumen reveals itself in many shapes and fashions. One foray into research of a specific field yields important facts and resources which can be used in another business sector. Recently I watched a video interview with one of the most successful movers and shakers of the music industry, Jimmy Iovine. Iovine discovered and produced such artists as Patti Smith, Dire Straits culminating with his expansion into the hip hop world, showcasing artists like Eminem and overseeing the Death Row Music catalog. This star filled music business career culminated in the sale of the Iovine founded company of Beats Electronics ((with Dr. Dre) to Apple Music for the unheard of sum of $3 Billion.
Irvine is the epitome of not only the music guru but much deeper the business guru, he got out of a failing industry and upon his acceptance of an executive position at Apple Music, he remains relevant, and that in the constantly changing digital landscape of music. Iovine had the "chops" to master everything thrown at him in the music industry (no easy task when you consider he worked with Suge Knight on a regular basis), but one revelation he was not able to conquer was the advent of the transformation into, and eventual dominance of digitization in the music business. This new opponent had it all, it was fast (immediate access to a catalog ) agile, (one could easily search through different genres) inexpensive (no more need for studios or production costs for vinyl or a CD) and he stayed open 24/7 (bye,bye record store), a formidable foe indeed for the traditional music industry.
Jimmy Iovine went on in the interview to talk about his first meeting with Steve Jobs, who gave him insight into Apple's future plans for the music industry, and the vision it had for the future of making music accessible to the masses, at that point Iovine said, he knew it was over for the traditional branch and it was time to move on or get rolled over by the train that was coming.
There was a lesson to be learned when analyzing this interview and I have to state that the conceptual mistake that many traditional business make when embracing digital avenues is that they attempt to digitize their brand and the heart and soul of their business, while failing to note that digital, as the term suggests, has no soul, it's a process oriented data based schematic which exists and subsists purely from strategy and calculation. In order to successfully "morph" into a company offering a digital component to its existing offering, one must first be confident in the qualities with made his business successful in the first place and transfer those qualities and offer them in a digital fashion. The music industry made the huge mistake of trying battle the tech giants on their playing field and they were not equipped to do so. We in business should strive to keep our core values within our companies, and then deliver it as digital, fast and furious !