Lessons CEOs Can Learn From Media

Innovation is hard. It requires having a finger on the pulse of what makes your customers happy now, while also keeping an ear to the ground for tremors of what technology is to come. Yes, you’ve got data scientists, teams of tech and innovation scouts, maybe even a corporate venture capital arm, all of which are there to help you manage the present and the future. But it’s still hard.

One example of just how difficult it can be to constantly scour the tech landscape for what’s next can be seen through media. Bear with me. As a communications and marketing professional working with startups and enterprises across a variety of industries, I’m required to read. Veraciously read. Everything. Trade media like Trucking Info, Aviation Week, RailwayAge, Mining.com, E&P Mag… and the list goes on. And mainstream media like Fortune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Verge, Wired, Recode... All of which have handy newsletters with nice summaries of the latest news that you need to know. These are very helpful in scanning for the unique points of view on what’s to come.

There are infinite announcements, product launches, investments, innovation labs, and corporate failures for reporters to write about and CEOs to make note of. I understand that there are a handful of companies that drive unparalleled disruption in their spaces. As you skim the headlines of the mainstream publications I mentioned, you see the same companies listed time after time. Uber (not necessarily positively in the past 12 months), Tesla, Google, Apple, GE, Ford, and maybe 10-20 or so more.

These make up a fraction of the Fortune 100 and don’t even scratch the surface of middle market companies or startups. What about the companies that don’t make the headlines because they’re not giant or sexy? Like HAAS Alert, whose v2v communication tech makes it easy for drivers to know if there is an obstruction on the road ahead. Or Reality AI, whose machine learning tech can identify anomalies to detect ice or snow on the road or even machine failures.

These are just a few examples of the types of companies that may not dethrone taxi companies or Ford, but they do have technology that can make those behemoths better.

That’s where I think today’s CEOs need to focus. Century-old companies aren’t likely to throw away their tried and true playbook, but if they’re wise, they’ll be aware of the emerging tech companies that can layer in with their processes to make them better, more effective, and more efficient. Because, while these young companies aren’t stealing the headlines, they should not be overlooked.