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The Beauty Industry and Missed Opportunities: Lessons from the IT Sector and The Writing on the Wall. In business, we have played the”if I only knew then what I know today…” game. And yes, many – if not all of us would lunge in the chance to jump right into a time machine and appear in the fabled right place at the right time: say, just before a wild stock exchange surge, or as valuably, before an impending accident.However, of all the”if I only knew then what I know today” ponderings, those which are the most painful – the ones that keep us up at night, not just what might happen to be, but what should happen to be are the chances we let slip right through our own fingers.Those are the opportunities that bite the longest and cut on the deepest, as in hindsight we see, with awful clarity, they were actually made for us. Those opportunities came knocking at our door, and we all really had to do was turn the doorknob, let them in, and reap the life-changing rewards.However, for a number of reasons – call it fate, bad luck, or anything else – we missed it. And so the knocking stopped, the door remained closed, and the chance went everywhere.Top Missed Opportunities (and Blunders) in Tech HistoryIf reflecting on missed opportunities has you feeling quite bad, then take heart: at least you did not make PC World’s harshly (but accurately!) Entitled”The Top 10 Stupidest Tech Company Blunders” list. Indeed, as you might sometimes lie awake in bed at night wondering”what might have been,” the people on this list are probably knee-deep in therapists through this point. Behold:• In 2006, Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel reacted to some bad business financial news by pulling back a virtually sealed $1 billion dollar deal for Facebook. The deal was reduced to $600 million, which has been too low for Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. • In 2000, an engineer, Tony Fadell pitched a music player which was an innovation in the current mix of MP3 players. He was shown the door by Real Networks and Philips, but he did catch the attention of a guy named Steve Jobs. Jump ahead a decade and Fadell’s vision – which became the iPod – controls 80 percent of the digital music market, and it has transformed how the music industry generates and delivers its own product.• In the early 2000’s, monoliths Sony and Toshiba waged corporate war over who would define the new high definition DVD standard. Sony had something named Blu-ray. Toshiba had something called HD DVD. Had they worked together, they’d have saved hundreds of millions of dollars and also gained hundreds of millions more. • Folks of a particular age will readily remember the times when MS-DOS ruled the pc operating system planet (can I get a dir, please?) . However, most people do not understand that before IBM chose Microsoft, it tried to strike a deal with a man named Gary Kildall of Digital Research. As it turns out, the day that IBM stopped by Gary’s spot to forge a deal, he was out delivering a product to a client – leaving his wife to handle the negotiations. Mrs. Kildall did not enjoy some of the things IBM was suggesting, and sent them on their way. • In 1973, Xerox built something very intriguing and called it the Alto. At the time, nobody really knew what the Alto was, because nothing like it had ever been around. All they knew was that it had a windows-based GUI, ethernet networking, and a WYSIWYG text processor. But who in their right minds would want that? There was no personal computer market in 1973, and so the Alto was put on the back burner. But this wasn’t before that iPod guy Steve Jobs played around with one, went”aha!” From the time Xerox awakened for this, it had been late and they never did catch up.• Back in 1999, millions of people basked in the front of the warm glow of the monitors and loaded up on digitial music courtesy of Napster. But not everybody was thrilled – like the music industry itself, that went into DefCon 3 style and attacked Napster and thousands of the”pirates” who were using it to”tear’em “. That’s when Napster CEO Hank Barry provided this revolutionary solution: license the audio and pay royalties to the artists, just like a radio channel. To put things mildly, his suggestion was not heeded. Nor was it wholeheartedly by the music business when a similar solution has been suggested by MP3.com, or any of those other sites where music enjoying”pirates” were congregating. Obviously, we know how this story ends: now, Barry’s licensing model is worth billions of dollars a year – and growing. The digital music industry could have avoided years of missed earnings, legal expenses, and the ire of music lovers (notably the 30,000 or so that it sued) if it’d simply noticed the writing on the wall and READ it. It had everything a CEO, investor or shareholder fantasies of: enormous market share, established customer base, huge resources, little competition, and technical advantages (particularly around information ) that functioned in some ways like a pure monopoly. So what happened? Neglecting to bolster its leadership position, re-invest in advanced technologies and solutions, Compuserve in essence held the door open for AOL to come in and in a few decades – kicked Compuserve out of the market altogether.• For many years, Craigslist was seen but not heard by the newspaper market. Who could imagine anyone turning away from (the very rewarding ) newspaper classifieds and placing their truth in some weird ads on a bizarre website named after some (presumably bizarre ) guy. Rather than understanding Craig Newmark’s business design and harnessing it, the newspaper industry went whistling, while Craigslist and buddies – eBay, Google, etc – retained growing exponentially. And now, there is a fantastic possibility that the only place future generations will see a newspaper, or at least the classified section of a newspaper, will probably be in a museum.• We dwell in the Google Age, but we could be living in the Open Text era – that is, if the people at Yahoo! and its new partner Open Text had, in 1997, chose to not abandon their plans to make a search engine that could quickly and accurately scan documents on the net and bring back search results. Their supervision was Google’s invitation, since in 1998, Google launched its search engine and, well, the rest is history (and, undoubtedly, the stuff of nightmares for the people at Yahoo! and Open Text that missed out on tens of thousands of dollars in profits).• At the turn of the century, Apple and its advisor Steve Jobs (yes, him ) were facing a very scary issue: they didn’t have cash, their inventory was close to worthless, and it did not even possess a CEO at the time. So why did not Apple fade to oblivion? Enter: Bill Gates and Microsoft, who sent over a check for a cool $150 million to keep Apple from rotting to the core. Evidently, Microsoft never recognized this tactical miscalculation would cost the company billions of dollars in lost earnings and market share in PCs, digital devices and applications. However, it did, and that is why Bill is on the list.The Components of a Missed Business OpportunityWhile all the shockingly large missed opportunities (and blunders) have various details and paint different pictures, it is enlightening to look past the surface into the frequent denominator – because in doing this, it will become evident that there are a few key, common ingredients to every missed business opportunity. These include:1. Misjudging the marketplace. Each of these sad tales wraps itself around a heart error, which is the market was woefully misjudged. Either markets that really did exist were presumed to be nothing (or, at best, not worthy of consideration), or basic fundamentals of what customers wanted was ignored in favour of what companies wanted and guessed were in their very best interest, rather than the customers’.2. Perhaps not seeing the warning signs. While hindsight is 20/20, it’s reasonable to conclude that the writing was already on the walls for these folks – and for a number of these, it had been there for years if they would simply pay attention. But instead of reading the signs, accepting reality and making alterations, they pretended that everything was fine, or even did an ostrich dip and insulated themselves contrary to what was really happening. The irony here, of course, is that the people who were charged with seeing reality – the leaders – were those who were dead-set on viewing anything but what was actually occurring. In the end, their collapse was considerably bigger than them – it shattered whole companies to the floor.3. Not partnering with the ideal solutions supplier. All these businesses can be faulted for failing to look out of their organization. If they had, they would have undoubtedly connected with the right services provider and obtained invaluable access to knowledge, products, services, channels and systems – any or all of that could have saved them out of economic disaster and a spot on this terrible list. To put it differently, they could not solve the problem in their own (presuming they saw it at the first place) and neglected to use partners to solve it smartly and successfully.The Writing is on the Wall for the Beauty IndustryWe have seen how the 3 center mistakes identified previously – misjudging the marketplace; not seeing the warning signals; not cooperating with the ideal solutions provider – have led to countless billions in losses for IT leaders who would do anything to return in time and reverse the damage (and be the laughing stock of future generations). And chillingly, we can even see how these blunders are making their way to the Beauty Industry – especially, in how the Beauty Industry deals with guys.Frankly, the Beauty Industry, for all of its combined intelligence and experience, is neglecting guys in its product development, its marketing, its advertising and especially its own retailing. Why? Well, if you ask the Beauty Industry, you won’t receive a response – since most industry insiders do not think there’s a problem! The few who do, their dreams are so myopic they can not see their way to a definite answer. In fact, the conventional Beauty Industry would have you think that guys generally, are well on their way to be’feminized’.It would be unfair to say that the Beauty Industry made no effort toward creating products and advertising campaigns that”appeal to guys”. However, the little that they did, is so far off the path that pulling the train back could be like getting it to stop on a dime. That’s no surprise since purposeful change in the ground up takes money – lots of it. However because masculine men do not wield nearly enough buying power to catch the Beauty Industry’s attention, the Beauty Industry figures that you aren’t significant enough to allow them to invest in a complete and expensive overhaul of their existing practices toward the marketing of men’s skin care and men’s anti-aging products.Besides, the contemporary Beauty Industry as a whole, like some of their counterparts at the IT section that made the List, are still so restricted by customs and influences of the female roots which have defined the Beauty Industry for nearly 200 years, one doubts that they’d see the solution if it were correct before their eyes.