Skip to main content

The Rolling Stones are still relevant – is your technology?

Rolling Stones tongue
The facade of the Rolling Stones London flagship store.

Mick Jagger is 80, and he and his aging bandmates are still a top draw in the youth-oriented popular music field.

July 26 marked a momentous occasion in music history – legendary Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger became an octogenarian. Given Jagger’s shift from debauchery to fitness and health once he reached his late 30s, his survival to old age is not a wonder like that of endlessly hard-partying Rolling Stones guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

But what is truly impressive about Jagger and his group is that they remain highly relevant in popular culture. Their tours still sell out large stadiums and they even operate a flagship store on London’s trendy Carnaby Street.

What can retailers learn about keeping their technology operations relevant from rock-n-roll’s senior citizen “bad boys”? Here are three lessons:

Stay with what got you to the top

The Rolling Stones burst onto the music scene with brawny, riff-heavy tunes that liberally borrowed from African-American performers like Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. As opposed to the more genteel Beatles, the Stones offered a down-and-dirty sound forcefully rooted in three-chord blues.

While the Stones have tweaked and experimented with their sound over the years (more about that in a moment), they have always retained a sloppy, bluesy riff as the cornerstone of everything they do. Retailers should follow suit.

Do you have an existing technology system or process that satisfies customers and delivers profits? Don’t be in a rush to replace it for the sake of replacing it. Is your brand messaging producing strong results? A refresh may not be necessary.

Naturally, this doesn’t mean you should never update or refresh your systems, processes, or branding, which brings us to the second lesson.

Remain current

This point may seem to be at odds with the first, but it really serves as a complement. The Stones never forgot the deceptively simple three-chord blues structure that made their music globally popular, but they also never hesitated to update that framework to fit changing tastes and trends.

The 1974 Stones hit “It’s Only Rock n Roll (But I Like It)” fits in perfectly with the glam rock sound of its time, but also is a clear descendent of their earlier work. The band had some misses in their efforts to stay current (i.e., disco-era oddity“Emotional Rescue”), but they always managed to embrace their heritage without being chained to it.

Likewise, retailers should stay true to the strategies and solutions that brought them success, but not be afraid to adopt the latest innovations. New middleware and APIs, or a cloud-based services approach, might dramatically increase the productivity of your technology infrastructure. And next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) technology is poised to streamline operations in every part of the enterprise.

Ride out the slumps

For a good chunk of the 1980s, the Rolling Stones were in a professional slump. They released some mediocre albums, and a variety of health and personal problems kept them off the road for most of the decade. Many observers predicted they would finally break up.

Instead, the Stones released the solid comeback album “Steel Wheels” in 1989 and launched a two-year world tour. Since then, they have released a few platinum albums and performed in front of millions of fans at hundreds of concerts.

No matter how good your technology and processes are, you will also hit the occasional slump. A server will crash, or a systems upgrade will cause unexpected integration difficulties. Don’t give up. Keep working at it and have belief in the creativity that brought you all your previous success. Keith Richards is still alive and kicking at 79. If that’s possible, anything is.


More Blog Posts in This Series

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds