The increasingly rapid rate of technological change is a key issue facing investors, presenting companies with huge opportunities but, at the same time, more likelihood of rapid decline. And it’s happening all over the western world, including Britain. The FSB’s New Year message containing a salutary warning to UK businesses – harness today’s tech or fall by the wayside.
Super-fast adoption for new technology developments
The thing is, the acceleration in the rate new technologies penetrate the market is remarkable. The humble telephone took 25 years to reach 10% of people and another 25 before it became ubiquitous. But smart phones hit 40% penetration in ten years, accompanies by the unraveling of pioneer brands like BlackBerry and Palm.
When do you join the bandwagon? Do you become an early adopter or wait for new tech to be proven before jumping on board? Or do you ignore it altogether?
Today’s new reality – how will you handle it?
Adapting is one thing, but it isn’t always possible. For some businesses the future might mean they acknowledge their traditional model is at death’s door, realise there’s nothing to be done about it and find a way to die with honour, causing as little damage as possible. For others the timely adoption of new tech designed to support better business will come with all sorts of commercial benefits.
The dangers of diving in too fast
It’s entirely possible to dive in too early and get left with tech that doesn’t do what it says on the tin, or has been superseded by something different and better.
Adopt new tech too freely and widely and you could face obsolescence in record time, leaving you with an expensive re-think and re-equip. On the other hand not taking up new tech puts you firmly behind cutting-edge competition and soon starts to put punters off. Take something as simple as PayPal. Many people won’t buy online unless they can pay by PayPal, and businesses that don’t offer it are suffering.
The future of British business will be determined by how well managers adapt to change, what they change and how they change it. It’ll also depend on them knowing – or intuiting, since it’s nigh on impossible to predict anything beyond the next few months – which changes are best left for others to test-drive, and which it’s best to ignore until things pan out or forget altogether.
All new tech isn’t great new tech. Just because it’s new and cool doesn’t mean it’s essential. But if everyone else is doing it and you’re not, it’s time to think about either catching up or giving up the ghost and starting again.
Hard as it is to believe, a whole load of businesses still don’t have a website, others do but don’t use social media and never blog. They’re the losers. But it works both ways. If you kitted your sales force out with Google Glass before it nosedived – not that it ever really got off the ground – you’ll be stuck with dead tech and a big bill.
Good luck with the balancing act!