For many decades, technology businesses were considered a separate industry sector. These were typically companies whose revenue was dependant on developing technology-based products and selling those products to other businesses. The majority of other businesses were relegated to the role of technology consumers. Wanting to reduce their technology budgets, these technology consumers focused on minimizing their technology costs by standardizing their business processes and tools. This approach worked for a while, since everyone in their industry and market were in the same race. However, with the advent of ubiquitous technology – in the form of cloud services, mobile and edge devices – a new wave of companies emerged. These new companies shifted technology from the periphery to the core of their business model.
Technology Became the Differentiator
New businesses in sectors ranging from healthcare to transportation to financial services were able to compete and steal market share from existing businesses. We started using terms like fintech, healthtech, and transportation as a service to differentiate these businesses from the respective industry sector they were competing within. They almost always looked more like technology companies based on their R&D budget and technology innovation. This new wave of hybrid startups has attracted tons of investments across the globe.
Many traditional businesses have changed their direction to keep up with the competition. They had to take advantage of the same trends in cloud, mobile, and edge, to start catching up to (or in some cases outperform) their new competitors. These traditional businesses have recognized that these new businesses are using technology to differentiate themselves and grabbing market share from them. Some have been able to successfully change their direction and take their competition. Many found new solutions for their customers by partnering with these new vendors. Some have decided to acquire these businesses and bring them into the core of their operations. This effectively started a transformation towards becoming more and more technology oriented.
What Drives This Process?
Several technology innovations:
- Open and fast internet access
- Adoption of mobile in every aspect of our business and professional lives
- Extensive processing and sensor technology being built in every device
- Low cost and easy access to large computing power in the form of cloud
These innovations have converged and democratized access to technology. This enabled new business models like “everything as a service” to thrive. As businesses adopt more technology, they create a greater wealth of data and many new integration possibilities.
In turn, this drives innovation to:
- Make sense of all the data
- Help businesses drive better decisions and optimize the user experience
- Offer new ways for users to obtain services from their business
- Create additional revenue generating opportunities uniquely enabled by technology
What Does this Mean for Your Business?
If you’re not already on the path of transforming towards a technology-centric future, now is the best time to start.
This is how you can begin:
- Starting the Discussion
Initiating discussions with your leadership (or, if you’re an executive, by leading such discussions) about making an initial investment.
- Create a Team
Empower a small team to start experimenting with technology and exploring how to solve current business challenges in a different way using cloud-based or related technologies. It is critical that you truly empower the team to try different technologies. Give them a budget and authority for creating a sandbox with enough guardrails and support from your IT and security teams to enable them to safely run experiments fast. It is equally critical to hold them accountable for their learning and sharing the results of their experiments. Therefore, you can build a roadmap for transforming your business through the use of technology and get wider support from the organization to continue further investments.
If you’ve started the transformation and feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The technology driving the trends discussed here is largely developed for builders. These are companies that employ engineers and others that have the skill and know-how to build solutions from various technology components. However, many of the businesses outside the technology sector employ people that are good at customizing and managing solutions who don’t have the capacity to maintain their existing technology stacks.
Learning the New Model
Customization, integration, and maintenance is commonly outsourced to professional services or managed services firms. In addition, most of those firms are too invested in their existing technology platforms and unable to move as fast as their customers who feel the pressure of the market. They need to adopt new technologies faster than their vendors can. This leaves room for a new kind of service firms (Optimus Information and Onica included) that have been born in the new technology-centric world. These new service firms are not constrained by old business models or large numbers of customers with support agreements that keep their staff working with outdated technologies. These companies are more than happy to share the best practices they have developed over the years working with early adopters of technologies like cloud, IoT, serverless, Big Data, Machine Learning, etc. Larger enterprises are also great examples of this new model. Many have already started their journeys and have been relying on those new technology-centric services organizations to help.
Technology Transformation Trend
It is somewhat useful to think of all of these trends as enabling a transformation towards technology-enabled businesses. However, in my 6+ years offering cloud consulting and managed services in Canada and the US, I have often seen this trend of technology becoming central to the business. These businesses are on the path to becoming or have already become technology-centric; and many aspects of their organizations have been transforming to support that. I expect this trend to continue over the next 10 years. I predict that we will find ourselves in a world where almost every business will become technology-centric.