Don't follow the herd on emerging technology

The corporate world is waking up to the benefits of being an early adopter but innovation is about culture not just the product.

Some people are born leaders, innovators or pioneers and some prefer to let others make mistakes first and follow the crowd.  But whatever your natural tendency as a person, or business, the corporate world is waking up to the fact that being an early adopter and innovator in technology has never been so important.

We are living in a time of constant and radical change where everything from the way we conduct business to how we go shopping looks different to the way it looked just five years ago.

These conditions now create once unavailable opportunities for businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors, take market share, redefine their industries and help ensure their success for the years to come.

The only way to take advantage of these opportunities is to adopt a willingness to be an innovator, to work with new technologies and start developing applications for them straight away.

It is for this reason that companies are now partnering with smaller, more agile businesses to help them experiment and leverage the possibilities of emerging technology.

Increasingly, my company b2cloud is being called upon as the ‘innovation arm’, to provide big businesses, such as Telstra, with the necessary direction and expertise as well as the ability to quickly create new products and services so they can start testing and refining them straight away.

All the early development and user testing gives businesses an enormous advantage, as when the technology becomes mainstream, they will already have a brilliant first product ready to go.

Think about smartwatches and wearable tech. When they take off, which they will very soon, it will be the companies that started testing and building apps for these devices early that will reap the benefits. Why? Because they were first and their apps will have a founding presence on those new platforms.

To further understand the benefits of quickly adopting new technologies before they become mainstream, just consider the case of Netflix and Blockbuster. The latter had thousands of stores, billions in revenue and a near-total domination of the movie rental market. Netflix was a DVD postal service with several hundred thousand subscribers and a gloomy financial outlook.

Yet Netflix recognised that as internet speeds improved people would shift to streaming their movies online rather than renting from a store. Sure enough, Blockbuster was too late to adopt the streaming model whereas Netflix had years to perfect it and become known for it. Blockbuster no longer exists and Netflix is thriving.

As the Netflix example shows, early adoption is not just a product or solution; it’s a way of thinking and innovating. It is quickly recognizing how new technologies can be used to help businesses and start developing and testing them as soon as possible. It is about staying one step ahead of the competition and preventing more technically advanced upstarts and competitors from stealing market-share.

While it is true you can’t predict the future you can certainly recognise where the future is heading. Knowing that direction is what being a successful early adopter is all about.

Josh Guest is the founder of b2cloud

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