Used to be, playlists were what you strung together in your Boombox. Used to be, podcasts and business books were wound into cassettes. Well, things change, and if you haven’t already said goodbye to a legend, now’s as good a time as any.

It was with great sadness that the world bid farewell to the Walkman late last year. Sure, you can still find them on E-Bay or Amazon or pawn shops as hand-me-downs, but electronics giant Sony announced late 2010 that the Walkman had played its last season on the active roster. Goodbye mixed tapes to your high school sweethearts, goodbye Bon Jovi and Journey tapes so worn the titles are smeared on the outside.

There’s a business lesson in there. Was a time when pagers ruled the land and cell phones were the size of suitcases planted in the backseat of your car. But you’ve got to keep up with technology. Of course Sony saw the writing on the wall a long time ago with mp3 players and iPods. The Walkman’s been a dinosaur for a while, but Sony’s philosophy has changed as customers get more sophisticated. A recent Business Week article took at look at the company and its chief transformation officer, who is hoping to transform the business so it starts looking on the outside with the customer for new ideas, not on the inside at the engineer’s workbench.

While indeed competitors’ products have improved, Bailey pointed to a switch in customer usage.

Customers’ desires have evolved. Having fantastic hardware isn’t sufficient anymore. “All of a sudden, people have started to think differently about electronics,” Bailey says. “They want software that’s intuitive and makes things easy to use. They want applications, content, and services.

“What excites a Japanese engineer in Shinagawa,” he adds, “may not be what makes a consumer happy in Helsinki or New York or Mumbai.”

How can you apply that to your customer base? Have you taken the time to see how your physician customers operate? If you’re going to pitch anything electronic to help streamline their workflow, have you taken a microscopic lens to that workflow? Physicians aren’t any different than retail consumers in this regard – they’re looking more and more for intuitive technology, for more time to do the things they love or need to do to generate revenue rather than be bogged down.

Think about it on your next jog or stroll through the neighborhood. Me, I’m popping in Living on a Prayer, and doing one last jog around the track with my neon orange headband in honor of my good pal, Mr. Walkman.

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