Technology is constantly changing not just the way we do business, but also the way we think about doing business. It is no longer enough to simply “keep up” with technology or maintain the status quo. What worked in the past, what works now, may not be what sets you apart from competition in the future.
Now, more than ever, it is important to find your competitive advantage. What is different about today than yesterday? People are more mobile, their work is more mobile, and they no longer want to be tied down. So why should they allow you to hold them hostage when there are options that allow them the freedom that they crave? This isn’t the world your parents grew up in. Need proof? Well, here it is.
Uber was founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp and, since its inception, has been the target of criticism and legal action. But despite all of the negative publicity, and despite the fact that governments all over the world have been trying to put Uber out of business, it has continued to thrive. What is it that makes Uber such a successful business? The founders saw a need, and they filled it in a way that no one had ever considered before. Finding a cab can be difficult and frustrating. You never know when it is going to come, how far away it is, or if it picked up someone else by accident. Uber has addressed this problem, however, allowing you to see where your cab is in its app and estimate how long it will take to get to you. Uber has changed the way people think about public transportation. And Uber did it by solving a problem in a way that had never been conceived of before, purely because it was not possible until mobility became ubiquitous.
Netflix didn’t start out as a video streaming company. In the early days of Netflix, the idea was that no one would have to go to a store to rent or return movies. For a small monthly fee, all you would have to do is go online and order the movies or shows that you wanted to watch, and Netflix would mail them to your door. When you were done, you would mail them back. When we look at Netflix, we might wonder what happened to its largest competitor. The one that had the largest market during Netflix’s infancy. In the year 2000, Blockbuster declined to buy Netflix for $50 million dollars. In 2010 Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection and not much has been heard of them since. Blockbuster was caught using an old model in a changing world. In short, Blockbuster didn’t innovate, and didn’t adapt when someone else did.
YouTube was launched in 2006 and a billion users later, it has become the third most visited site on the internet. No one saw YouTube coming. Who would have thought that a simple way to share home videos would become so much more than that. It would become a way for people to share pieces of themselves with the world. It would be an outlet for creative people of all types, for people that didn’t fit in to find a following, for everyone to put everything on video and share it with others. Now YouTube has more viewers than any major American network. YouTube has changed the way that people view “home videos” and what it means to be an aspiring artist.
So, don’t be left behind
As these examples have shown, it is imperative to understand how technology affects the way we do business and how it influences the demands of end users. So, what can YOU do to stay competitive? It’s about shifting the way you think, and taking a fresh look at how you can best serve your customers, your employees, or whoever your end user might be given the influence of the rapidly evolving technological landscape.