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Navigating the Evolution of Technology (As Told By Dinosaurs)

What I Learned About Tech Strategy From Jurassic Park

Velociraptors. You know them. Bloodthirsty and smarter that dolphins. They can open doors and probably enter smartphone passwords now too. And as Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm taught us, they are the direct result of people who “were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Jurassic Park is a great example of one of the things that science fiction does best. It shows us how advances in technology create new questions for us. As more and more becomes possible, it moves us out of the world of “Can?” and into the world of “Should?”

Velociraptors: an ideal metaphor for innovation gone awry | Scene from ‘Jurassic Park’

Certain areas of technology have been grappling with questions like this for a long time. In the business world, we are now in a new era, in which this question will become paramount for businesses. The pace of innovation, accessibility, and affordability of technology will enable today’s businesses to accomplish far more than they could yesterday.

The problem is, that while this tremendous explosion in available technology makes so much more possible, many businesses will find themselves dealing with questions they may not be equipped to answer.

We live in an era where businesses will no longer be constrained by what’s technologically possible. This accessibility forces companies to ask themselves not “can?”, but “should?” And while answering the question incorrectly may not produce murderous and overly intelligent dinosaurs, it may have dire consequences for your business (and the careers of people pushing for certain initiatives).

Let’s take a look at a common way companies seek to answer the “should” question: “will this technology help us be more efficient? And will this project pay for itself?” This is the most tempting way to look at things, because it’s the most straightforward.

The problem with this approach is that efficiency for efficiency’s sake is a lot like science fiction’s progress for progress’s sake.

In the business world, the main limitation with the efficiency play is that it ignores customer experience and may only serve to make a bad customer experience more efficient. Making a bad customer experience more efficient, simply means that your company will more easily, and often automatically, produce a poor customer experience faster. This is the business technology equivalent of a velociraptor.

When deciding whether or not a business “should” make an investment in technology, decision-makers should ask themselves: Does this support us making a better experience for our customers?

Sometimes the truth is that, yes, you need areas of your business to be more efficient in order to support a better customer experience. But my suggestion is that your operative question should not begin with efficiency, but lead with, “How will this impact our customer’s experience?”

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