I vividly remember an interview on Dutch television somewhere in the late ’90s where people were asked about mobile phones. None of the interviewees was in possession of a “cellphone”. They explained the lack of needing one as they had an answering machine or beeper (…..I know, I know, here you go→ https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semafoon). Some even explained not wanting a mobile phone as they had a landline so if people called and they weren’t at home, they would just have to try later. Imagine that! The fun part isn’t even seeing people with old haircuts talking about the technology we take for granted today. It’s the fact that they were seeing it as a “new thing” that “they didn’t need”, while it had already taken the market by storm and early adopters were reaping the benefits. Why is that funny? Because history is repeating itself!
Today is no different than some 25 years ago
We can see the same patterns as in the ‘90s. Just replace “Mobile phone” with Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Cryptocurrencies, NFT’s, and other forms of “new” technology. They are often seen as some futuristic idea. However, these are no longer just ideas and they aren’t futuristic either. The number of people using these technologies is growing rapidly, which means organizations — your competitors — are adopting and upscaling them as well. Not adopting now can mean you’re getting behind quickly, just like the people in that 90’s interview and their disinterest in mobile communication.
Adopting new technology is never easy. There’s so much to choose from and it’s risky being among the first. However, there’s also a risk of NOT being among the first. In terms of consumers in the ’90s, not adopting first led to missing out on easy (or just cool) phone numbers, incentives for being early, and learning how to use the technology quickly. It’s happening today with technologies that are deemed “early” or “scary”. While your competitors are experimenting and implementing new forms of automating to scale their business, staying behind or clamping on the existing technology will only increase the competitive gap. Look at the stores that never believed in the online space because they were “offline household names” and now remain names in history books. They don’t say “innovate or die” for no reason.
2030 is made today
I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work with leaders in many different countries. I was able to speak in countries like the United Kingdom, but also in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. What I noticed in the latter is that they have an extensive, publicly available plan for the adoption of new forms of automation and Artificial Intelligence. They’ve set 2030 as a milestone for many giant changes. Also, they are innovating on the Human Capital side at the same time. This means they’ve got an actionable plan and they are already creating, testing, and implementing forms of technology the rest of the world hasn’t tried yet. That puts them ahead of the curve, literally.
In the micro perspective, this means that not innovating today will put you behind once 2030 actually starts. Many big organizations — including your potential competitors or maybe even new ones that popped up because of their innovations — will already be too far to catch up. People who were against having a mobile phone surely have one now. But they were behind on the learning curve. For them, that’s not such a big deal. For you, it might be! Especially if your biggest rival is buying 2 phones and you’re still listening to your answering machine.