I started out in the technology business years ago, too many in fact. I have to admit for transparency, I am not one of the original tech gurus who wrote code and stored it on keypunch cards. No, the first code I wrote was in high school; I stored it on paper teletype tape back in the late 1970s. Yes, I just dated myself, it’s ok, like fine wine, I feel like I’m getting better with age… or like cheese I am just starting to stink.
I did not get involved in the computer industry until the early 1990s. I needed a job, and a friend got me an interview for an open Account Manager position with MacWarehouse. Remember when you needed a catalogue to order equipment. If you happened to be in K-12 Education and located in one of the New England states, I was the guy who took care of you.
I moved from sales to the technical side of life fairly quickly and now, I’ve been doing something in the computer industry for almost 30 years. OK that freaks me out.
I have seen a lot of changes. I don’t want to think about what has changed in the past 30 years. There has been one change in recent years that is important to technology today, and if you don’t recognize it, you’ll be left behind.
I started a consulting business about 15 years ago and have always exclusively focused on working business-to-business. Sure, when I first started out I fixed anything. I needed to work, but soon enough I really wanted to focus on providing business people great service. Coming from the corporate world of KPMG, I knew big companies were able to leverage great technology and technology plans; resources abounded. It might take time to get something accomplished, bureaucracy, but with the right budget and business plan it would get done. Smaller businesses weren’t able to get or have the same level of service nor did they have the same expertise. This was my role.
My marketing talked about allowing me to take the “technology monkey” off your back, so you, the business owner, can do what you do best, run your business. Even today this sounds like a great thought. You didn’t go into x business to be a computer expert, right? You wanted to be a dentist, or accountant, or make widgets better then anyone else can make widgets. In fact this last week I heard a radio commercial form a competitor whose market focus was exactly this: “You didn’t get into business to fix computers”
But here’s the thing. It’s all changing. Technology is a commodity. It’s part of day to day like. Computers are everywhere. Bruce Schneier’s recent blog post, Security and the Internet of Things talks about the change in security due to the fact everything is a computer now. Your refrigerator is no longer just a refrigerator; it’s a computer which makes food cold. Your stove is a computer which makes food hot. Your car is hundreds of computers with wheels and an engine which takes you from place to place.
Business is changing, and
changing in a drastic way.
These devices are part of your day to day life. Business is changing, and changing in a drastic way. Your business needs to have a core competency of technology. If you are not competent with technology in your business, I would predict the next ten years for you are going to be hard. If you have at the root of your business someone who is resistant to the fast paced change and advancement of technology, it’s my belief the next 10 years will be a difficult time. New companies are starting up with new technology processes and procedures that make their speed for change exponentially faster then those of us who have been around the block.
Speed, agility, and change is the name of the game. Automation is happening everywhere. Not just in the technology industry, it’s happening in places like manufacturing and [transportation](https://www.wired.com/2016/10/ubers-self-driving-truck-makes-first-delivery-50000-beers/ “An automated 18 wheeler makes it’s first delivery”). As a business leader we need to take a step back and a step forward. We can no longer look at our businesses as if we are just doing X (plug in what you do for a business here) to survive. We must look at our business as technology companies which also do X. We need to take a step back and look at what we are doing, and we need to take a step forward to embrace the change happening.
If you run a business and are still thinking of computers as machines you use to help communicate and run your business, you are behind the times. These systems are the core of what you do, and if you do not recognize this you need to start thinking differently.
Change is happening and happening fast, don’t get left behind.