The NACS' Environmental Scan Think Tank (ESTT) held one of our regular meetings recently. We do so about three times a year, roughly 6-8 weeks before each board meeting. For this session we each did some background research and reading to look at trends and developments in the K-12 space that could affect college stores in the future. A difficult task, since things are changing so quickly these days. As I was preparing to start typing up the notes from our meeting, I came across the following NY Times article on virtual worlds in the"tween" space. It is an interesting article about an emerging technology and the kids that use it. The main child in the article is only 10 years old. What will it mean to us when kids like this enter college more en mass, perhaps in just a few short years? What steps should we take now to prepare? I have some thoughts -- but what are yours?
Strategic thinking and planning takes time, and college stores should be taking some time every day to think strategically. I have heard a few interesting stories lately from different stores and some of the things they are doing. UCLA's bookstore recently created a "Course Materials Strategist" position to think more about what is ahead. I think that is an excellent move. I have helped a few other college stores rethink the job description for their textbook manager as well. We have lots of opportunities out there, but if we are not doing the environmental scanning and strategic thinking about the implications, then the odds that we will be the ones to capitalize on those opportunities is fairly slim. Just something to think about on a Monday.