It’s not uncommon for the early adopters and the change-resistant to butt heads. It’s quite a sight to behold in fact, watching naysayers deny the boundless possibilities of new technology and software, while the early adopters are always on the hunt for the next big thing. The problem is most evident when those who are resistant to change are holding on dearly to outdated technology which can easily be updated to streamline a business and improve the overall return on investment. We see it time and time again and the long-term effects can damage companies and even lead to them ultimately closing their doors. Companies need to maintain their positions in the marketplace while continually improving, investing in and developing new technology. It all starts with hiring the right people, and that’s where we come in.
Companies Which Flailed and Failed
Video never did manage to kill the radio but Netflix did kill Blockbuster. The video rental company suffered instability in the boardroom with a thoroughfare of the wrong CEOs, no institutional memory and an incohesive business strategy. While Netflix was struggling along as a small business in 2007 it was very nearly bought by Blockbuster, luckily the clever people of Netflix chose otherwise. Thanks to advances in technology leading to better internet connections, Netflix now has the lion’s share of the market and luckily for us, there is no longer a need to leave the house to get your movie or series fix.
Despite their early access to digital technology, the photographic company was swallowed by inertia and its inability to understand the broader ecosystem. Holding back rather than developing digital cameras for the mass market in fear of cannibalising it’s other stronger product lines, the company fell behind while the likes of Canon and Nikon overtook them. Despite filing for bankruptcy in 2012, Kodak still exists as a smaller commercially focussed company, a shell of its former self.
Sure, this company still exists but only barely. Another victim of innovation incompetence, Blackberry failed to rival the technology of its peers. Clinging for dear life to the famous physical keyboard rather than innovating or simply following other industry leaders such as Apple or Samsung, Blackberry’s sales have plummeted drastically. Despite paving the way for the smartphones we use today, their market share has dropped to 0.8%.
Revolutionary for its time, MySpace was one of the first and reining social media platform for three years from 2005 to 2008. Users could customise their profiles with videos, music and wallpaper, the downside of this was that the platform could be incredibly slow and cumbersome to use. In addition, the customised profile pages often resulted in crimes against our visual sensibilities– blue text set against lime green backgrounds were not an unusual sight. The result; an unfriendly user experience which did not endear users to the platform.
South African Companies Also Need to Innovate
Just as these companies failed to evolve, in South Africa, there are many companies which are opting to merely keep the lights on rather than invest in the adopting and developing the latest technology which could give them the edge over their competitors. This is the exact kind of complacency which drives companies out of business and renders them irrelevant. By proactively investing in innovative technologies South African companies can lessen the risk of devolution, increase their productivity, improve user experience and achieve their business objectives.
This article is part one of a three-part series in which we discuss embracing the ever-changing technological landscape. This journey starts with avoiding the mistakes other companies have made in the past and instead of finding better ways to forge ahead and successfully carve out a new path. South African companies are perfectly positioned to seize emerging technologies and grow their global footprint but it requires a change in so many aspects of a business – one of them being how they hire. By hiring for change and innovation companies are better equipped to pre-empt change rather than merely react to it.