Why Have I Advocated Old Technology—Isn’t New Technology the Wave of the Future?

Yes, new technology is the wave of the future. And, companies should embrace new technology. But, it must be adopted in ways that support and fit the business.

A successful future will have some ties to a company’s past strengths. So, to what extent and how new technology should be embraced depends upon various factors such as the nature of a company’s business model, the company’s strengths, and the advantages of new technology versus old in the company’s competitive landscape.

So, when I was quoted recently in a Daily Herald article about the upcoming renovation of Woodfield Shopping Mall, I pointed out that it is possible to thrive with the old ways, if done correctly. Essentially, the old way of doing something can still do well as long as it continues to offer advantages. This means that, although bricks and mortar malls are the old way of shopping as online commerce gains, if a mall has the right location and offers an environment that still meets shoppers’ needs, a bricks and mortar mall can continue to do well.

Yet, even though bricks and mortar malls are the old way of shopping, they still need to incorporate new technology as is appropriate. This might mean anything from smart phone apps, to webrooming (which lets shoppers buy online, but pick-up the goods at a physical store location), to any other technology that might enhance the mall experience or mall operations. The important point is that whatever technology is adopted must be a good fit for the business.

Thus, when I say the old way can still do well, it does not mean that companies should ignore the advances of technology. It does not mean that companies should complacently sit back and fail to change with the times. It means companies need to think through their strengths, adopt strategies that build on those strengths, and incorporate new technologies in ways that are an appropriate fit to support the strategic direction of the business.

And, it means there has been tremendous success for retailers like Ikea, which emphasizes physical stores far more than its online business, and for T.J. Maxx, whose bricks and mortar business thrived by offering a treasure hunt environment that appeals to browsing shoppers who buy items they discover in the store. Like Ikea, T.J. Maxx put its emphasis on bricks and mortar, although neither of these two retailers has completely ignored online shopping.

Likewise, in the high tech sector, old ways doing well can mean that attention must be paid to strengths before moving forward with the latest new technology. For Blackberry, this can mean continuing to pay attention to its strengths in corporate markets and focusing on the needs of those corporate markets. This means striving for the right mix combining the technology that had been its strength with appropriate technological advances that fit. And, sometimes, pieces of older technology, like the Blackberry keyboard, can play a role while a company ultimately moves forward with the new.

In conclusion, there can still be value in the old way of doing things. But, that doesn’t mean that the latest new technology should be ignored. New technology is the wave of the future and it should be embraced. But, since a business’ past strengths are important to future success, new technology generally should be embraced in ways that appropriately support the business and its strengths.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *