Do you feel overwhelmed every time you read about the introduction of new technologies? Do you hear how they’re going to be having a dramatic effect on the way you do business in the future, and panic? You don’t need to fear the coming evolution because the chances are that you’re already a technology expert and actually quite adept at adjusting – although you may not know it!
Most of us have become digital technologists by “osmosis”. In other words, if we look back dispassionately over the past 30 years, with the benefit of hindsight we can see just how much our life styles have been changed inordinately with the advent of digital technologies. We have a natural inclination to think of ourselves as novices where new technology is concerned. Yet if we step back and look at the way that we’ve embraced and adapted to the changes introduced to us over the decades, we should give ourselves more credit. We have “absorbed” these new technologies and have every reason to be confident about taking advantage of the opportunities they bring for our professional and everyday lives.
Most people are far more technology savvy than they realize! I always point to the analogy of the frog in a pot: the premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out. If it’s placed in cold water that is slowly heated, however, it will not perceive the surrounding danger and will be cooked to death. In other words, we’re not always cognizant of the fact that we’ve been slowly adapting to the digital world changes occurring around us; we need to become more aware of these changes, and have the confidence to embrace them and incorporate them into our personal and business lives.
In order to put things into perspective, consider four major technology developments in the 1980′s that significantly changed the way we live and work today: the personal computer; the cellphone; the establishment of a global Internet and the creation of the Sony Walkman. While the impact of the first three may be obvious, the Walkman was the device that pioneered the way for people to access personalized portable entertainment, anywhere and at anytime.
The 1980′s introduced these new technologies and the 1990′s brought about their integration into society. For example, GSM cellphone technology allowed people to roam the world, the development of the World Wide Web and Internet browsers allowed people to access information, and the creation of TiVo gave people the ability to time-shift entertainment. All of these brought technology into the mainstream. Add to these the development of the iPod and iPhone and the rise of social networking in the 2000′s, and it’s clear to see how these technologies have permeated our society and culture, and just how well we’ve all adapted to the changes they’ve brought about.
2010 was a transitional year that saw the convergence of 3G & 4G technologies with cloud computing, social media, and Wi-Fi. The evolution of smartphones and the introduction of touch screen tablets has built on this convergence and enabled a faster, easier and more compelling interactive consumer experience. Social media in turn is leveraging this interactive access to the mobile network, and uses location and context data to provide personalization of services and information, with particular focus on retail opportunities.
The confluence of technologies and services is changing the way consumers live and work. It is also generating an ecosystem of companies that are creating applications and services which are stimulating the economy locally, nationally and globally. In a recent study it was estimated that 450,000 jobs had been created by companies developing apps.
Mobility, Internet and computing capable devices are not only impacting their users but also the way in which companies interact with their customers. As a result, large and small companies need to recognize that the business models of their industries, relatively static for many years, are changing around them even if they haven’t yet started to adjust their own. My advice to any CEO or small business owner is the same: open your eyes and look around; observe the opportunities that technology is now enabling and identify how you could apply these same technologies to enhance your company’s customer offering and business performance.