Only Technologists Will Survive The Digital Transformation And Continue Leading.
You heard me, In today’s business ecosystem its possible to be technology adverse, but just barely, and not for much longer. The reality is this: The sun is setting on our current business paradigm and as we watch it slip quietly into obscurity, we eagerly wait in the early morning darkness, anticipating the dawn of a new business paradigm. We are equal parts excited and terrified of what this new world will look like. We can only speculate on appearance. The business landscape of tomorrow will require technologists who have an intimate understanding of technology so they may lead. Technologist-CEO’s will be required to contemplate abstract moral issues as these technologies become ubiquitous. Moral, legal and ethical concerns will need to be discussed at length and we need our decision makers to understand the difference between narrow AI and general AI.
Remember Tower Records?
Tower Records went bankrupt in 2004, just 6 years after an aggressive $110 million expansion campaign that began in 1998. With the benefit of hindsight’s perfect vision, we can look back on that year and connect a few dots. 1998 was a pivotal year for Tower Records, although it wasn’t for the reasons you probably think. 1998 was the year that Pandora and her box came to us dressed up as a greasy-haired college kid bearing the name: Napster. Peer to peer file sharing was unleashed on the world. 1998 was indeed a fatal year for T-Records and the music industry as a whole.
Napster changed the game. (and they started a war with Metallica that was awfully entertaining to watch)
Overnight Napster went viral and music became digital. Soon thereafter, Napster was shut down for copyright infringement. However, this was a futile endeavor and ultimately amounted to being too little, too late. Pandora’s box had been opened, and file sharing was not going to go back into the box anytime soon. The final nail was pounded into the Tower Records saga a few years later when Itunes opened, and promptly sold over $100 million in music. (In it’s first year!!)
Netflix Gets It
Netflix started life as a DVD mailing company. In 2007 they launched their streaming services app at a time when the technology still needed polishing. The technologists running Netflix realized that a streaming movie service would destroy their business model. They were aware of the trends and were paying attention to things like bandwidth speed per constant dollar, and the price of data storage. They were able to look at the general landscape of the industry and because they were technologists they never stopped asking themselves: What tech would put us out of business and how can we develop it first?!
As the industry shifted, Netflix leads the charge and became a monster.
Netflix was run by technologists, Tower Records was not.
Surfboard or Life Jacket, Either Way, We’re Getting Wet
Technology is a tsunami. A massive, fast moving torrent of disruption, and we are either grabbing for surfboards to ride it, or life jackets to protect ourselves from it. Technology is giving birth to industries and ideas at an exponential rate. New industries rise and converge. Obsolete ones become stale, slow and irrelevant. If you are not paying attention to these tidal waves now, you can be assured that you will be forced to notice them tomorrow…
…and by then it’s too late.
“Techify” Yourself – 7 tips
- Commit to being curious.
- Stop being afraid of the tech and explore whats on the cutting edge.
- Diversify your reading and your interests
- Don’t just read industry publications relevant to you! New industries are born when old ones collide, become diversified with your knowledge and you’ll have a better chance at seeing emergent trends. Here are a few of my favorite tech sites: Singularity Hub, Futurism, The Verge, Wired and The Next Web. (reach out to me on linkedin for a complete list )
- Reverse mentor ship
- Make a younger employee or family member your technology mentor. Spend a few hours with them each month to learn about new tech.
- Open up your organization to idea forums.
- Ask your employees what kinds of things could disrupt the industry, etc
- Understand that the tech revolution is fueled by computers that double in power every year, plan accordingly!
- Consider the consequences of our technology.
- New technologies and new understandings bring on new moral and ethical questions. Issues like the AI containment problem or longevity are difficult ideas and as a leader you need to be aware of the struggles our species is facing.
- Adopt new technologies and use them.
Remember You can’t lead a stale company in a world defined by change. The only constant is change.
The future is in technology, The real future is in transcending Technology.
Hit me up on LinkedIn.
So we can talk about some of the technology that you should be paying attention too.
The New IT