Developing a mind for technology does not imply you become a techno geek or techno slave. Consider the groupies who follow Apple products. They provide a vivid illustration of the significant numbers of techno-junkies who blindly follow a product because its techno cool. A mind for technology, on the other hand, is about recognising and exploiting the new value that you can derive from embracing and applying technology.
My view is that technology infused into our products or services (and very soon our minds) can give competitive advantages. They present a threat or an opportunity for you. If your competitor tweaks their product or service with value added technology in a way that gives them a competitive advantage, it is a threat. It is an opportunity if you introduce these to yours. In this way, you gain the competitive advantage by giving customers new value before your opposition does.
Having a mind for technology means you are willing to use and actively seek innovative technology to add new value to your products and services. The intent may be to achieve improved efficiency, lowered cost, or a reduced carbon footprint. There are so many examples of technology-enabled new value creation ranging from 3D printing, energy efficiency, music recognition apps; online shopping to movies on demand.
What about renewable energy technology? Would you prefer to continue using energy generating methods that pollute, or rather use renewable energy sources that are kinder to the environment? Read up on the efforts of Elon Musk, who is one of the leading innovators in this domain. In his businesses he is committed to using solar energy as a power source as opposed to burning fossil fuel. He claimed we have this handy fusion reactor in the sky – it just works (Musk, 2015). Are there ways to adapt your offering to a more green-focused market?
Reflect on disruptive innovations. Network orchestrators like Airbnb and Uber are using disruptive technology to create value that didn’t exist before. Ask yourself, does this type of innovation present an opportunity or a threat to your current products or services? The many opportunities presented by the sharing economy need to be carefully considered and catered for in your strategy.
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson made the amazing claim in Time Magazine that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020: a goal that will be made possible by autonomous technology (Samuelsson, 2016).
If technology and digitisation is somewhat overwhelming you, it is time to become technology agile, as there is much more to come. We are already in the era of flipped classrooms enabled by technology, virtual reality, digital teaching and learning devices, voice recognition, digital surveillance, unmanned drones, self-driving cars, the deep web, the dark web, bitcoins, and the most controversial of all – artificial intelligence.
Dr Steve Harris. Motivational speaker, team building, conference speaker, keynote speaker