In the face of technological disruption, some businesses become obsolete and others are able adapt. From the outside looking in, it can be difficult to see why either outcome occurs.

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The key to navigating disruption in your industry is mindset, according to digital marketing expert Minter Dial, who maintains that there are specific mindsets businesses need to embrace if they are to stay relevant.

Minter is a speaker and consultant on topics relating to branding and digital strategy. After a long career at L’Oreal, he founded The Myndset Company and then Digitalproof Consultancy Ltd., helping companies adapt to the digitally enhanced marketplace. Also a storytelling expert, Minter wrote The Last Ring Home, a book and award-winning documentary film.

I invited Minter to Marketing Smarts to talk more about his approach to business and project planning, and to share insights from his new book, Futureproof: How to Get Your Business Ready for the Next Disruption.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Use artificial intelligence, but use it strategically. (05:02): "The thing with artificial intelligence or any of these technologies is trying to use it according to what you're trying to achieve. There are some low-hanging fruit with regard to AI that can typically be managing, for example, the times when you don't have staff on hand. That typically comes in the form of low-end AI chatbots that allow you to respond in due fashion to your customers in times when you're typically not at the office.

"The challenge with AI in many cases is having enough data to spawn and create interesting analyses and action plans using the AI. If I were looking at AI, what I would typically be looking at is (a) what are my strategic challenges, what am I trying to achieve, and (b) doing everything I can to be much better at collecting and collating the data from all the different points I can in the business. The challenge from there is figuring out the right insights and asking the right questions of that data. That's where AI can be extremely useful."

Before long, we might be able to personalize marketing based on our audience's DNA (09:04): "Genomics is the study of the genome—it's our code, it's what we're made up of. Within the genome, you have your genetic code, the specific code that allows us to be humans and our type of humans, and what we are. Then there's all this other material within the genome that they're not sure about. That's part of what's interesting about the potential within the genome. There's so much untapped 'gray material' within the genome.

"Once you start figuring out the different patterns that are available in different people, one could imagine that your genomic code...could indicate 'I am someone who's very social, who doesn't like to go out in the sun, and who is more attuned with an image-based marketing approach,' whereas someone else might be more rational, more scientific, and really prefers to have long-form text messages. It's possible that, down the pike, we're going to have such an ability to understand what type of marketing's going to be more effective for each of us."  

A customer-first approach is good, but an employee-first approach is better (15:14): "The typical model that most companies run by is return on shareholder investment: 'We are here to turn profits and that's the only thing that counts.' The more evolved companies, like Amazon, are thinking, 'Actually, we should be more focused on the customer.' That is definitely a progress relative to what I call a 'type 1' type of company, where you're really focused on just making profits.

"So focus on the customer is great because the customer's paying you. Turns out, though, that's really only the beginning of the story. The stronger, more evolved companies are actually those [that] say it's 'employee first,' because it's the employee in this digital, Internet, switched-on environment who is providing...the contact points with the customer. If you have a switched-on, motivated employee, they're going to be better equipped to provide that satisfaction for the customer."

To survive disruption, your entire team needs to take ownership of cybersecurity (21:22): "A lot of companies, a lot of executives will rationally want to have the best firewalls and cybersecurity systems in place to avoid cyberhacks. That is a necessary idea, but the reality is that the vast majority of these hacks have come through human error.

"What that means is that you need to create an environment where everybody on your team takes responsibility for what's going on. What are the newest forms of hacks? How is the phishing changing? And [everyone needs to] be aware that every USB key is a danger, and have hygiene with regard to your take responsibility for what you're doing."

To learn more, visit or follow Minter on Twitter: @mdial, and be sure to pick up your copy of Futureproof: How to Get Your Business Ready for the Next Disruption.

Minter and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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