When talking to business professionals about the role of technology and technological progress in their businesses, people’s high level mindsets tend to break down into several categories. I’ll discuss the first two in this post, and continue with more in part 2.

1. Tech Progress is Largely Unnecessary or Even a Nuisance

This is a surprisingly common perspective.

Whether it’s pen and paper or using Windows XP, these people have gotten comfortable doing things a specific way and don’t see the need to change.

In a recent talk given by Marco Gercke, he said that when IoT first became a buzzword, many executives were asking, “Do we really need to connect every refrigerator to the internet?” His answer was initially, “No, we don’t.”

However, he pointed out that the right question with cutting edge technology is not “do we need it”, but rather “what opportunities does it offer?” It’s useful to ask:

What things become possible if we adopt cutting edge tech?

If you’ve been profitably in business for a while, it should go without saying that you have some number of processes that work fine just as they are. Changing these things can seem unnecessary.

However, the problem is likely not that your current processes are broken. The problem is that someone else who adopts cutting edge tech may find a way to beat you in the market.

If a competitor comes out with a way for their refrigerator to automatically reorder groceries, you are in trouble. They’ve now created a more compelling product for the consumer. If they start collecting transaction fees on each automatic grocery reorder, they could potentially innovate the business model so that you can’t compete on price.

Picture this: A company decides to give away a free high-tech refrigerator that automatically orders groceries. Customers just pay a 3% fee on each grocery delivery.

Is this realistic? Maybe. Maybe not.

If you want real life examples, you just have to look at Amazon to see that being at the front of the technology curve can provide tremendous insights and business advantages.

2. It Would Be Nice, But…

Companies with the “it would be nice” mindset would actually like to embrace digital transformation, but they are hesitant due to unknown costs and lack of experience.

They might look at their particular industry and feel that they aren’t in such a bad state compared to their competitors. This might be true for the moment, but it won’t last forever.

Companies with this mindset may even take some steps toward digitizing, but they don’t fully commit.

This has its own set of challenges. If you don’t fully commit, you are likely going to end up just making a mess, wasting money, and creating massive amounts of technical debt.

Beyond that, all of the arguments from the first mindset still apply. If you don’t take enough action, you are putting yourself at risk of disruption.

Continued in part 2.

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