The way that we do business has changed enormously over the last few decades. And almost all of that change is a consequence of new technology.
As transistors have gotten smaller, and computers have gotten more powerful, we’ve uncovered radically new ways of thinking and operating.
There are entire industries which rely on just one or two applications, based in a smartphone ecosystem that, just twenty years ago, would have been unthinkable.
If you’re going to set up a business in the modern age, therefore, you had better take technology very seriously indeed.
This applies now more than ever, since we’re in a period of rapid progress and development, especially when it comes to developing fields like AI and machine learning.
How does it affect businesses?
So, what does this mean for the businesses we set up and run? We need only consider a few case studies from history.
The most significant changes over the last decade have centred around the rise of home streaming services.
This resulted in the collapse of Blockbuster, whose business model was obsolete, and which failed to adapt to the new way of doing things.
We see a similar story with Kodak, which, having pioneered the digital camera in the 1970s, failed to recognise when the technology was ready for the mass market in the 2000s.
Nowadays, we’re able to store greater quantities of data than ever before, and at much lower costs. Moreover, we’re able to send that data at high speed around the world.
This is part of what’s driven the rise of cloud storage and huge server farms.
This shift has helped to lower costs for individual businesses, which can enjoy lower overheads.
But it has also had legal implications, since existing data protection legislation was unsuited to the new challenges posed by the technology. This has required many laws surrounding technology and data to come into place.
Further productivity gains have been made through interconnectivity. More complex supply chains have been made possible by the fact that businesses are now able to communicate with one another much more quickly and easily.
Had the Covid-19 pandemic struck in the early 2000s, then the effects might have been much worse, because we would have lacked the ability to work remotely and to hold virtual meetings.
The advent of VR, and the much-vaunted metaverse, might change professional relationships further, giving us a more convincing digital approximation of an in-person meeting.
Improved efficiency and productivity
If these technological changes did not result in superior productivity and lowered costs, they would never have been implemented. Nowadays, just about every part of a business is likely to be in some way digitised.
Specialised accounting and payroll software, sharper laptop screens, and the rise of bespoke no-code software have all, to varying extents, made life simpler and more profitable for businesses of every shape and size.