Technology Companies The New Leaders Of The Economy

If the new arbiter of knowledge is digital access to the planetary knowledge base, then whatever industry you’re in, your company needs to become a technology company.

A bank is no longer a physical network of branches to deposit cheques and dispense payroll. A bank is a technology company. The digital platform denizens use to save, invest, share, and access their wealth.

A hospital is no longer just a building with clinical staff. It is a technology company. The digital hub for healthcare across communities, demographies, and specialist cohorts.

If you are not a technology company you simply cannot complete in a digital world. In the same way if you didn’t industrialise you simply couldn’t compete in an industrial world.

This already applies to every industry, and over time will increasingly disrupt every business. Every role. Every job.

What is your company doing about a digital strategy?

What technologies are you learning to ensure a career?

Copy it Better

Project 2012: Day 313

I had to laugh. In the office yesterday one of the grads was asking the grad in my team how her website was coming on. Intrigued, I asked about the website (always interested in start-up ideas). “oh,” she said, “it’s a website where you can design jewellery.”

I pointed out that just such a web business already existed.

Quick as a wink, Kelly turned back to Chat and said: “That’s great, head over there and copy it, but do it better.”

There’s all sorts of lessons in this. From a website (or app) is not a business, to market segmentation, to the value of an idea. But what I want to draw out is that this is a valid approach.

Not only a valid approach, but one that heaps of entrepreneurs from Branson, to Zuckerberg, to Jobs, follow. Not the copying, far from it. But the entry into a busy market, rather than seeking an original idea.

Magazines, music stores, and airlines already abounded when Sir Richard started his versions (and Cola, Mobile Phones, Trains, Gyms). Similarly MySpace was a going concern before Facebook, personal computers before Apple, not to mention MP3 players, smartphones, and retail stores.

But each of these outlier entrepreneurs did something that disrupted the market. Perhaps it was a commercial innovation like Virgin did with pre-paid mobile phones rather than the standard lock-in contracts.

People copying your idea? Not a problem. Either they’ll provide good competition or they won’t find the secret sauce you have in execution.

What is MUCH harder is when you have that unique idea, that’s never been seen before. No competition to validate the market, no reference point for prospective customers to latch on to.

Galileo had it tough Smile

So stop trying to find something brand new, just disrupt a current market. Do it better!

*Note: Don’t worry Pascale, Chat is nowhere near competing with StyleRocks Open-mouthed smile

There’s No Such Thing as Competition

Project 2012: Day 292

Teaching my girl to diveTrue story, one of the best Sales Managers I’ve ever worked with, and most respected, has this as his philosophy.

“There is no such thing as competition, only untapped partnerships.”

It’s both a counter-intuitive and counter-cultural idea.

Counter-intuitive because everything we’ve ever learned points towards competition. Even getting into “top” set for maths, or the 1st Rugby team at school. It’s no wonder that people see competition as opposition.

Counter-cultural because sales is compared to a battlefield. I.e. a zero-sum game. There can only be one winner, hence everyone else competing for the business must be a loser. (Note: Having served in the military, I hate the use of war as a business analogy”

Yet inherently we know this isn’t the case. Our family owns both Toyotas, and Honda cars. And a motorcycle. Apple, Dell, HP, & Toshiba computing products. iOS & Android phones – the list goes on. Just buying one brand doesn’t exclude any others for future, or even current purchases. I bet you have both Dropbox and Skydrive.

Jim Hicks once taught me, as a budding NAUI scuba instructor at a PDC in Durban, and asked the class: “Who is your opposition?”

“PADI,” “SSI,” “Dive shop down the road,” “BSAC” came the answers from the class.

“No” he replied, “Those are your competition, they’re all competing for discretionary spend, but all competing as Dive agencies. You’d do well to partner with them. Your opposition is sky-diving, hang-gliding, rock climbing – other adventure sports looking for the same discretionary spend that takes the $ out of the diving industry.

It was a good lesson. Although I’d argue that as a Dive Shop/Agency you could even partner with another leisure activity.

So as a start-up, who is your competition? And more importantly, how can you partner with them?

Something for Nothing

Project 2012: Day 187

This is the best time in history to start a business. The technology shifts have totally removed barriers to entry, pretty much for any industry.

With a credit card, a good idea, skills and focus, you can pretty much do anything – where previously you needed serious funding for any number of components for your business.

So what can you do, say for your business productivity?

  • Gmail or Hotmail will allow you to communicate for free. You can even register ($10) and point your own domain at these email services, so you don’t have to have a gmail.com or live.com address
  • WordPress.com will allow you to build a website, complete with blog, e-commerce site, shopping cart, and social network. Again for free, or for premium services, a miniscule amount.
  • Saasu.com and Xero.com allow you to do your accounts in the cloud. With Saasu you even get the opportunity to have their app on your iPhone. Yes you can invoice your clients directly from your phone wherever you are (e.g. on their site)
  • Both Google, and Microsoft offer desktop software (wordprocessor, spreadsheet, and presentations) as a service through your browser. Of course for $6 you could buy the iPad versions of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers (the Apple apps)
  • Basecamp will allow you to manage projects in the cloud

Ok, so you and your staff no longer need to buy expensive technology or licences to become productive, what about making, selling, and distributing real products. Atoms rather than electrons.

  • Alibaba.com will find you an engineering company to prototype and manufacture your goods.
  • 99Designs will get all your design work done for you
  • Odesk.com, Freelancer.com, or elance.com are markets where you can find contractors to do anything you want – project management, architecture, copywriting, programming, design, even presentations and video editing.
  • Shipit.com is where you head to distribute your product
  • If you haven’t created your own shop on your WordPress site, set up a site on Amazon.com or eBay.com – of course there are plenty of localised sites you can use too, like Craigslist.com, Gumtree.com.au (Australia only)

It’s not just about the cloud either. Most of these services have Smartphone apps that you can use to manage your business whilst on the move.

Believe me when I say that you can compete with multi-national companies. You no longer need to be a Microsoft, Apple, or Coca-cola to afford your own video, broadcast advertising, R&D team, or specialist marketing.

And here’s the really cool thing. Although you no longer need that scale to afford the specialist services to compete on an even playing field, you don’t have the costs (staff, capital, premises, infrastructure, or support services) that they do.

There has never been a more affordable time to start a business.

What are you waiting for?