What's the State of Your Industry? Experts Debate the Challenges and Opportunities Ahead

June 9, 2015


If you’ve ever wondered whether what you’re doing all day matters, sometimes it helps to pause and gain a little perspective.

For our latest series on LinkedIn, “State of My Industry,” we asked some of the world’s top experts to stop and take a candid look at their industries: What are the evolutions you're seeing? What are the key problems that need to be solved in the short- and long-term?

Join 70+ Influencers as they debate the state — and future of — their industries. From Richard Branson to Lockheed Martin's Marillyn Hewson, what did these experts get right (and wrong)? What did they gloss over or miss entirely?

YOUR TURN: If you could do it over again, would you pick the same industry? What opportunities might your industry offer students and career-changers? What skills should they develop to help move your industry forward?

Write a post here; please use the hashtag #MyIndustry somewhere in the body (not the headline) of your post.


Here’s what some Influencers believe will help their industries stay relevant and forward-thinking:


Want to feel more creative? Start by ditching the tie.

According to Richard Branson, stuffy work environments stifle creativity. “You’ll only ever catch me in a suit at a wedding or at dinner with the Queen,” Branson writes. “Suits aren’t totally to blame for lacklustre working environments, but there’s freedom that comes from breaking down barriers, and giving people a sense of self-expression and enjoyment while working. We spend majority of our lives at work, so why not enjoy it?”

Fortunately, in an age of T-shirts à la Mark Zuckerberg, more hoodie-clad entrepreneurs are proving it’s possible to cultivate successful businesses that are also “places of innovation, creativity and, most of all, happiness within the work force."

Audacious ideas rarely spring from boardrooms and office cubicles. They come from getting out and about and experiencing life in its most inspiring settings. Creativity doesn’t wear a uniform, nor should creators.


Be transparent. Your company should have nothing to hide.

Long after TripAdvisor allowed travelers to rate and research hotels, some leaders in the hospitality industry were still paralyzed by old habits. “This kind of loss of control would have sent – and for those who considered it, did send — shockwaves through a company: ‘What if there’s a negative review?!?’” writes Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International. So what actually happened after his company finally started displaying unfiltered guest reviews on its corporate hotel websites? “Shocking to some was what didn’t happen. The sky didn’t fall… [And] one well-articulated complaint can provide us a roadmap on exactly where and how to improve.”

We have learned to trust our customer and our product. When we do, we have nothing to hide.


Revamp the stereotypes that are stalling your industry's growth.

Few industries are ridiculed as much as the cable industry, which is desperately trying to shed its ineffectual "Cable Guy" image. Given that consumers now expect on-demand libraries and Wi-Fi hotspots, leaders in the cable industry are finally ready to cut the cord: “The industry knows consumers want content on every screen in their life and it is delivering new products, like TV Everywhere, that make it possible to do so … and liberate consumers from a fixed television set,” writes Michael Powell, the president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

It is our responsibility to tell a better story than the 'cable guy' euphemism that is predictable fodder for late-night comedians.


Innovate (and hire) for the future.

Think your industry is way ahead of the curve? With an eye trained on the next big thing, many 25-year projects in the global aerospace and defense industry are already underway, says Lockheed Martin’s CEO Marillyn Hewson. Unfortunately while the long-term vision is in place, the talent is not: “Many experienced professionals are reaching retirement age, and we face a critical shortage of new STEM talent to meet increasing demand. That’s why Lockheed Martin [has] more than 2,000 vacancies in these critical fields right now.”

We have to be ready for whatever our customers will need, even before they know they need it.


Never take anything for granted.

In recent years, the traditional auto industry has taken a back seat in the public eye to tech competitors like Tesla and Google. (Self-driving cars, anyone?) But as Ford unveils some of its plans for connectivity, mobility, and autonomous vehicles, perhaps it’s this promise that will help the company regain its edge: “True to who we are at Ford, we’ll make these innovations affordable and accessible to millions of people around the world, not just a select few who can afford luxury vehicles,” CEO Mark Fields writes.

As a business, it means we have to challenge ourselves and not take anything for granted. That can be difficult for a 112-year-old company. Yet we are pushing ourselves to think, to act and disrupt like a startup company.


Understand how your role serves the greater good.

Given the recent Brian Williams scandal at NBC and other high-profile gaffes by journalists who suddenly became part of the news cycle, Al Jazeera America host Ali Velshi knows the media industry (particularly broadcast journalism) is on shaky ground: “We can’t turn back the clock to a time when everyone watched the evening news at 6:30 p.m. And we can’t pretend the Internet and mobile devices haven’t upended the economic model upon which mainstream TV media depended for decades.” And yet, Velshi says the role of the news journalist has never been more critical:

The public needs a vigorous adult in the room to curate what people need to know about these and other important subjects, even if they’d rather watch cat videos, read celebrity gossip or play video games.


In the coming weeks, we’ll also hear from leading industry voices in advertising, education, energy, healthcare, law, oil & gas, and more. Here's a sampling:

  • ADVERTISING: “Why Ads Should Reward Buyers, Not Interrupt Them,” by Brian Wong, founder & CEO at Kiip
  • EDUCATION: “In Defense of College — and Why I’m Glad Some Things Never Change,” by Menlo College President Richard A. Moran
  • ENERGY:How Robots and Lasers Are Helping Improve the Power Grid of the Future,” by Pacific Gas & Electric’s SVP & CIO Karen Austin
  • HEALTHCARE: "Why Sharing Healthcare Data Will Be Our Industry's Black Swan," by AthenaHealth CEO and Co-founder Jonathan Bush
  • LAW: “Why Divorce Lawyers Are Paying Attention to the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage” by celebrity divorce attorney Randy Kessler
  • OIL & GAS: “Swinging Oil Prices Are Nothing New. (Trust Me, I’m 87.),” by T. Boone Pickens, founder, chairman and CEO at BP Capital
  • SECURITY: “How Cybersecurity Is a Revolution 30 Years in the Making,” by Robert Herjavec, a Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank and founder of the Herjavec Group

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Is your industry thriving — or struggling? What are the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead?

Write your own State of My Industry post here; please include #MyIndustry somewhere in the body (not the headline) of your piece.

Graphics by Jacqueline Zaccor/LinkedIn