Disruption: never laugh at new technologies!

In 1943, Thomas Watson, President of IBM said he thought there was a world market “for maybe five computers”. Thankfully for IBM, Watsons prediction was far from the reality of how the market would evolve. In 2017, IBM brought in revenue of around $80 billion selling computer hardware and software.
Can you imagine someone like Watson, one of the most informed person on the subject at that time, could underestimate that much how computers were going to change the world?


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Have you ever judge any new Technology too fast?

Everyone likes to make fun of new things. But technology is something we have to take seriously.

As Larry Page, CEO of Google said: “The main thing that has caused companies to fail, in my view, is that they missed the future.”

Most companies are simply not aware of what’s new, and they are not taking what is happening in front of their eyes seriously.

When Twitter launched, back in 2006, most people were too busy making jokes about it rather than trying to understand the opportunities it would drive for their businesses. Some people and companies massively benefited from been early adopters of Twitter. They understood the mechanics and built up a following before the masses joined. It gave them a headstart in their businesses.

The same thing happened with Facebook, and history has been repeating itself with Pinterest, Snapchat or Instagram.

But it is happening to more than just social media; drones, virtual reality, 3D printing, smart glasses, etc. Most people have been making fun of those technologies instead of looking into the opportunities.

Larry Page Missing the Future Quote

But how can you really stay ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology?

Businesses need to look into new technologies much faster. Not to be part of the hype, but to anticipate potential disruptions and opportunities.

Companies should be allocated a significant budget to experiment with new technologies internally.

Don’t simply connect the dots and try to predict the future of a technology based on your current knowledge.

Take the time to explore these digital evolutions with your team. Discuss their potential, think of possible business models and try to grasp their real value for you and your customers.

In 2000, a new player in the video industry approached Blockbuster, who turned a deal to purchase them for $50 million. This one-year old company was Netflix. Barry McCarthy, former CFO of Netflix remembered: “they [Blockbuster C-levels] just about laughed us out of their office.”

Laughing at new technology? Underestimating a new business model? This was exactly Blockbuster’s problem.

They waited for a sustainable and profitable business model, for proof that it would work. And this gave their competition enough space to get a head start.

Earnings Blockbuster vs Netflix

So if we could give you only one advice, it is to stay connected with the players who are driving the technological evolutions. Keep an eye on what’s happening in the technology space. Dedicate time and resources to evaluate new models.

No matter which industry you’re working in, disruptors are around the corner, ready to impact the future of your business.

Connect with Martial on LinkedIn to stay updated on how we future-proof organizations.

Don’t ask immediately what a new technology might be good for. History has proven that the future is unpredictable.