Just imagine you were the CEO of Walmart several years ago.
You can see that Amazon is starting to gain a foothold in markets beyond the books and music where it started.
You know you have to have some kind of response, some preparation for when Amazon (or someone like Amazon) starts to intrude on your core markets.
You also know that any significant excursion into online sales is going to be expensive.
Yet you can’t abandon your successful, physical stores – or fail to maintain your investment in improving them…. they are not exempt from fierce competition.
This means that the advance of technology has resulted in you having to make two sets of investment, rather than one, to maintain or grow your market share.
The same dilemma hit newspapers who had to start experimenting with digital print and online sales alongside their traditional distribution methods.
A few companies in each of these different sectors have been successful, but there is a long tail of companies who have experienced declining sales and the threat of extinction.
Why am I talking about this in a productivity blog?
Because this explains some of the slowdown in productivity over the last decade.
This is probably a temporary phenomenon. When the winners emerge and the losers go to the wall, overall productivity should rise.
The problem, then, is there might be one company to rule them all (Amazon?) with the attendant problems of monopoly.