If I was a young entrepreneur seeking fame and fortune rather than an aging military retiree who has already “been all I can be,” there are a number of enterprising businesses and endeavors I would not seek to see myself in in 2020 and beyond.
Some are treasured, some involve terrific skills and talent, but all are rapidly becoming passe’ and on their way out as technology, eventually, will prevail.
1. Radio. Not a growth industry. Digital services are rapidly and severely eroding traditional radio, music charts once driven by AM/FM broadcasts are increasingly driven by digital, Generation Z listeners prefer streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora over AM/FM stations, younger music listeners have increasingly turned to sites like YouTube to discover emerging artists and songs and more importantly digital services, including streaming platforms, have become an important income source. And the truth? Listenership is down and it’s not coming back.
2. Malls. The days of the mall are soon over. Say what you will, the 2nds Street and 82nd Street malls have been far from what was envisioned when they were created and Central Mall, less the movie theater, is a dinosaur. Retailers must eventually capture the online market or they will assuredly, in time, fail. Even those who have been with us 50 years will not be able to remain price competitive. Customers, it seems, value service less than price. A sad realization for local businesses and small town buyers.
3. Business Suits. Business suits, coats and ties are forever a thing of the past. In business, they have regressed from daily wear to infrequent “gotta make a big impression meeting.” This seems to be true across the spectrum to include the stodgiest and most conservative ever, the American banker.
4. Libraries. These repositories of our greatest books, the source for all references and the place for peaceful thinking, will also fall victim to technology platforms and internet services. Public funding is already declining, and school libraries face huge economic troubles. Salaries for librarians are declining. The future doesn’t appear bright.
5. Newspapers. We in Oklahoma have experienced the decline of Tthe Oklahoman as it has ceased delivery outside larger cities, and small newspapers continue to struggle for advertising dollars and readership. We are told younger readers take their news from multiple sources, none of which seem to be daily newspapers. It, of course, has become a case of big fish eating little fish, making it more and more difficult for local newspapers to survive, let alone thrive. Again the future does not seem bright for local news in local markets.
Oh and there’s a lot more to come. Perhaps not in my lifetime or yours but travel agencies, brick and mortar banks, studio photography and network television are well, ultimately, on the way out. Will society be better served? We may soon find out.
Lee Baxter is a former commanding general at Fort Sill.