WHY LEADERS MUST EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY?
Innovation, just a decade back had its accustomed incremental pace but something decidedly adrenalized its momentum to such an extent that leaps in the last decade has been astonishing. iPhone, iPad, Google glass, YouTube, camera phones, Google self driving car, commercial GPS, DNA testing & sequencing and many others exist and even though they aren’t inventions, they are brilliant innovations or improvisations over cars, phones, cameras, glass, navigation systems, erstwhile medical themes etc. and is making material difference in the way we perceive, behave and live.
WHAT IS CAUSING THIS HUGE CHANGE?
- Information Processing (microprocessors)
- Information Accessibility (worldwide web and smart devices)
- Information Dissemination (social media)
are a few amongst the catalysts for these rapid innovations being introduced to the market place.
- Microprocessor is a computer processor that integrates the functions of a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) on a single integrated circuit and this revolutionized the information-processing arena. Laptops and mobile devices are very fast. Latency has significantly reduced hence information retrieval is almost immediate.
- Internet needs no elaboration, the percentage of people who succumb to its compelling allure is on the rise. As per 2014 data, 40 % of the world’s population has Internet connection (about 3 billion people). A decade back (1995) it was less than 1 %. The always connected devices such as mobile phones, iPads, laptops, kindle, Android devices make it easy for the information to be quickly rendered.
- Social media’s suggestive nature coupled with its lightening speed transmission to each person’s circle of influence, acquaintances and friends has remodeled almost all industries and businesses. Appropriating advertising and marketing campaigns only through conventional media channels such as television, print, radio etc. wrenches oneself away from one’s target demographics who now colonize a different platform altogether. People may not be in front of their television but they are always available on some format of social media. Social media routing therefore is mandatory to survive the terrain and it isn’t merely a place for friends to chitchat and connect, it is also an authentic platform for thought leaders to express their views and seek opinion reciprocity, challenges etc. as well as a conduit for businesses to associate with their existing customers and other prospective clients.
These statistics tantalizingly reveal to the leaders, the need to innovate and change. The shape and texture of all existing industry will undergo manifold catharsis in the next 10 years and the digital pull will become compelling. Many will perish, a few will cling on to sustenance mode a little longer hoping for the tide to pass and a few will emerge victorious albeit for a specific period as market disruptive forces are fully switched on which means competing forces will come along with better features, benefits and differentiating points. The victorious ones will be the firms who did not remain merely awed by the mega trends and developments happening around them but had the audacity to take action and change. Google, Apple, PayPal, IBM, Nintendo, LG, Tiffany’s are a few examples of a few firms who either changed their business plan midway or their core products.
The list is exhaustive but do glance over a few of the changes happening:
- Cognitive cooking is an IBM Watson project that understands people’s food preferences and uses data about what ingredients need to be used to create these specific preferences. The chef then cooks these delightful customized recipes.
- Messaging applications and mobile applications are on the rise and this is going to keep people even more remarkably connected.
- Search engine scatter has begun. Beyond Google search, people also have started search on YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media and they value recommendations and suggestions provided there.
- By 2020 the number of devices connected to the Internet will be in excess of 40 Billion.
- Music streaming service like Spotify provide music that can be browsed and streamed on to any device connected to the Internet thereby decimating the DVD industry.
- ‘Full funnel marketing’ will assist the seller’s firm to tailor their marketing campaigns to buyers who are at various stages of buying in the funnel (High , medium and low end of the funnel).
- Mobile payments will become a regular engagement mode.
In this ever changing arena how insulated is one’s business idea, marketing & selling style, processes and operations. One can argue that every firm is not in the technology business but this is an incorrect surmise. Every firm is incontrovertibly in the technology business because the processes that govern a business such as manufacturing, distribution, logistics, operations, office administration, mobile applicability, services etc. constantly undergo technological changes and if embraced could reduce overhead expenses. Firms luxuriating in a slowly changing developmental terrain, need to understand these rapidly changing technology usage and adaptation trends. There is a multiplication effect due to social media hence if one is used to perceiving gradual changes in the environment, and applies the conventional strokes of presuppositions and ‘change yardsticks’, one is in for a colossal surprise. It is a clichéd construction to state that leaders need to be wary of this, indeed their strategy teams attest them with pertinent information backed up with sufficient dread (of not changing and remaining the same) but this information and dread remain in its basal form as information and dread in their heads. It doesn’t get converted to decision and action hence they consequently suffer the fate as did Nokia, Blackberry, Kodak, Motorola mobile devices and many others. It is called ‘Failure to Perceive’ , ‘Failure to Convert’ and ‘Failure to Respond.’
Fiction and fantasy has always distracted us from reality. Avatar, Inception, Lord of the Rings, Interstellar, and special effects movies have always roused our curiosity. People sitting in Silicon Valley and other semiconductor hubs around the world, as they keep bringing forth faster processing speeds and computing power, the pace of technological innovations is going to be on the ascendancy. In a way fiction is being converted into reality over time. The gadgets, cars and various contraptions that we see around us today, if viewed by our great grandfather, would flabbergast him and make him compare it with science fiction movies of his time. The same will happen to us because technology will indubitably progress faster and a step ahead of our comprehension and we will always be playing catch up.
Youngsters these days seem to intuitively grasp the functionality of most gadgets, devices and technology as they are thrown into it from inception. As on 2014 the Global semiconductor market revenues crossed $ 336 Billion. People are buying. They are convinced of faster speeds and immense processing power. As processing power improves and costs reduce, device manufacturers and software industry has to supplant their own brilliance over their previous developments and keep producing magic. Evident in the leader’s possession must be the following attributes ‘Innovative Driver’, ‘Technology Embracer’ & ‘Social Media adopter’ amongst other exhibits of leadership. How we engage with technology will signify our intrinsic acceptance of it, our connectivity with people, our perception of the market place and our readiness for the future. Leaders will need to keep watching the continuum because technology as a stimuli will be constantly thrown at them and they have the choice to embrace it or retract from it and stay within their stoic confines however to honour the definition of one’s firm as a ‘going concern’ will need much more than accounting brilliance.