3 Tips for Surviving the New Technology Timebomb.

Timebomb on a computer chip, representing a technology timebomb

A recent article in Forbes magazine predicts a time when Facebook and Google will have been superseded by new technologies that satisfy better what we are looking for from social media and search.

The first threat they identify is mobile, but after that, well, it will be down to whatever new technologies emerge. The assumption is that the new technologies will be brought to market by start up entrepreneurs – just as Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook. This, they predict is more likely than the established social media and search companies bringing the new technologies to market themselves.

Why shouldn’t these giants manage the transition to the new technology you might ask? Well there are plentiful examples the author argues of tech companies that failed to make the transition from one tech generation to the next. Web 1.0 companies like Nestcape, Alta Vista and Excite did not manage the transition to web 2.0. What's more Facebook, the authors argue, has been slow to transition to mobile.

If this argument is correct, then is it not just the same problem that afflicts many companies? How to manage and maintain the current business while exploring and incorporating new technologies into the offer? In particular, being aware of the technologies that could be selected by any entrepreneur who decides to start up in your field at any moment in time.

The technology industries can be used to demonstrate this process starkly because of the speed at which they move.

Recent research has shown that the average life of a Fortune 500 company is only 40-50 years.

Many large companies continue to struggle with the challenges of managing current operations while at the same time exploring and experimenting with the new technologies that nimble start ups seize upon.

Large parts of the pharma industry have realized that they cannot do this in house and are developing relationships with biotech companies to keep their options open on new technologies.

What else can you do?

    1.   A different approach to strategy and planning: Reset as Day Zero.

The problem with most strategic planning processes is that they encourage managers to spend a significant amount of time on “Where are we now?” “What are our capabilities and resources?” Having identified these, you can start to feel that the optimum strategy and plan is the one that gets the best return on those assets. This may be right for the short term. But then there is the question of survival.

A new entrant by contrast, who has your customers in his sights, is not burdened by having to make use of your old technologies nor your work force with their out of date skills and processes (worst case scenario!).

Therefore you may want to include in some of your planning time an exercise about "a reset as Day Zero". This involves considering; if we were setting up to serve our customers today, and had not yet invested in any technologies or capabilities how would we do it? What technologies would we use? What kind of people would we employ? What processes would we design?

Once you’ve seen where planning at Day Zero takes you, you will have a better sense of the future threats to you business and how you might want to respond.

      2.  Spend time exploring options to innovate your business model.

Business model innovation can be a highly creative and stimulating process.  New technologies have opened up many more opportunities for how you can better create value for customers and capture value for your organization

      3.  Develop entrepreneurial spirit and culture.

Outside of the planning process and  business model innovation, organizations that survive in the future are likely to have a more entrepreneurial spirit and culture. How well does your organization encourage and reward entrepreneurial behavior? Clue : If one of your employees identified a new channel to market, enabled by a new technology, how quickly could you get a test of that channel up and running?

Read more about technology generations.

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