When was the last time you sent a postcard to a friend while on holiday? More likely that you posted a holiday snap on Instagram. Do you buy a newspaper on your way to work in the morning (or even get it delivered to your home)? Probably not - the tablet version is a more likely source for your news (or even just relying on Twitter, if you are less worried about the reliability of the stories you read...)
Those are just two examples of consumer behaviours that have changed significantly in the last twenty years, with an accelerated rate of change in the last ten. What once looked like a permanent feature of every day life - the role of printed communications - has been overwhelmed by digital channels (even though print persists, albeit in reduced form).
So what do you do if your business is structured around a channel which has fallen out of favour or been overtaken in this way? For two speakers at this year’s DataIQ Future Summit, these are the harsh realities of the markets they trade in. Post Office may have a long and honourable history, but that counts for nothing if its customers rarely write to each other. Telegraph Media Group may still have loyal newspaper readers, but it has also had to reconfigure for the digital era.
Transformation is one of the hardest tasks any business can undertake. Which is why, when programming this year’s event, I particularly sought out examples of companies that were not just playing catch-up with the times, but are actively seeking the new opportunities and revenue streams that might result.
Post Office may not have as many retail customers for stamps, but it has seen a massive rise in people wanting to post parcels on the back of the success of eBay, for example. Making that process easy - from online postage payment to extended opening hours - maintains its place in everyday life while giving the digital channel a human face. Individual branches even have their own Twitter feeds, for example.
The Telegraph has seized on the richness of data which arises from online visitors and paid-for digital subscriptions to make its advertising sales a whole lot smarter. As a content creator with huge credibility and heritage, it can leverage those subscriber relationships both by extending what it offers and by helping advertisers to understand those individuals better.
It has not been easy for either company and their journey is far from over. What is encouraging, however, is to see the way in which these brands have understood their existing strengths and sought to leverage them in new ways. Embedding data into the culture from top to bottom is part of the story they will be telling in October.
Your own business may also seem stuck with a legacy that is not optimal for the digital era. But if the oldest and most physical-world brands can achieve change on this scale, anyone can do it.
To learn the lessons of these leaders in data-driven business transformation, book your ticket for the DataIQ Future Summit at www.dataiq.co.uk/future2014.