Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Moving past early stage and the challenge of scalability 24: ubiquitous communications and computation as an enabler of business scalability 2

Posted in business and convergent technologies, startups by Timothy Platt on March 19, 2013

This is my twenty fourth installment in a series on building a business for scalability and long-term success (see Startups and Early Stage Businesses, postings 96 and scattered following for Parts 1-23.)

The primary focus of this blog as a whole is the workplace of the 21st century, and with ongoing discussion of what that means at multiple levels, from that of the individual as we live and work, to the level of the service or department within a business, to consideration of businesses and of supply chains and business ecosystems as a whole. And as a part of this I also delve at least selectively into issues of the entire economy and of macroeconomics. This series focuses on the middle level of businesses as ongoing entities and on their growth and scalability, and this posting focuses within that topic area on a quintessentially 21st century phenomena that is coming to define business operations and business success: the emergence of ubiquitous connectivity, and in all directions, with consumers and end users and marketplaces, and with suppliers and partner businesses.

This posting, I add, is also a direct continuation of Part 23, where I really began considering the role of ubiquitous computing and communications on business expansion and scalability. And I will follow through on that here, but before I do so I want to step back to put this set of issues in a broader perspective.

• This emerging technology and business model opportunity can serve as a driver for differential success the way it does, precisely because it is still fluid and very rapidly evolving.
• As such, it offers real opportunity for differences to arise between competitors, in how or even whether they would develop and implement best practices for it.

When ubiquitous computing and communications and their basic best practice implementations have developed and diffused out as mature and settled technologies, they will no longer provide those cutting edge opportunities for creating competitive-edge defining difference. Basically every business will be doing what are fundamentally the same things. And that role of offering cutting edge and even blue ocean strategy opportunity, and the opportunity for businesses to separate themselves out as more readily scalable industry leaders will be played by whatever new and still emerging technologies and applications that are then in play. So right now and for the foreseeable future this role is being played by ubiquitous computing and the drive to find and implement new ways to do it best. But that only holds for now – and in that regard, this posting is not really about ubiquitous computing and communications at all, but rather about knowing and really understanding whatever that cutting edge differentiating opportunity is, and expanding and scaling from that.

I noted above that I delve into the full series of organizational levels in writing this blog from that of the individual to that of complex business ecosystems and the economy as a whole. Right now, ubiquitous computing and communications and the ability to connect and to do business from anywhere to anywhere and at any time, forms one of the key potential differentiators for business scalability and for growth in strength. It achieves this by creating bridges between these levels for creating and sharing value between them: between the individual marketplace participant and the business that would sell to them, and between that business and its suppliers and other partner businesses that make this possible. And this brings me to a point that I ended Part 23 with. I stated at the end of that series installment that I would focus here on:

• The impact of an expanding range of communications channels and user preferences as a route to increased diversity of scalability options.
• And that I would specifically focus on the handheld device as a route to bringing the full strength of the business into the individual employee’s hands as a new path forward in this.

Right now, as of this writing, identifying the right channels for reaching the right marketing demographics in the right way and with an effectively drafted message is one of the biggest challenges that businesses face, and both in setting themselves apart for competitive and overall business strength and for setting themselves up for growth and scalability. Simply marketing with a web site and with some Twitter posts might help, and so might buying ad time during the Super Bowl and even at the incredible per-second rates that that costs – or they might be more of a waste of misdirected effort for lack of effective marketing focus and resource utilization. And in that regard I remember how a number of the early dot-coms that went under in the first big dot-com bubble burst, spent down their cash reserves to advertise on television during the Super Bowl – when the people they needed to reach with their marketing would either not be watching, or at the very least when they would not be receptive. Online technologies are still very rapidly advancing and evolving, and businesses are still racing to see who can come up with the best ways to capitalize on their potentials, and for both their here and now market strength and for longer term strength and scalability. And this brings me to those increasingly ubiquitous handhelds – smart phones, tablets and other completely portable online access points that we all now carry with us. Seamlessly integrating bigger and smaller screen oriented messages and really capitalizing on the potential of the handheld as a point of contact is still an elusive and evolving goal.

• This means reaching out to market to consumers and to potential consumers, as focused upon immediately above,
• But this also means more real-time and ubiquitously connecting within the business infrastructure and with suppliers and other outside partner businesses too.

These are not mature technologies yet, and there is a lot of room for differentiating good from better from a still rapidly changing and elusive to define best.

I am going to pick up on my next series installment on a point I began discussing above, and on the simple fact that no technological advance or thought process changing application can be an ultimate and perpetually fresh source of novel innovation. Ubiquitous computing and communications will become fully mainstreamed and all of their core functionalities and their implementations will develop into settled products and services of mature industries. New sources and forms of New will arise and the patterns and processes I write of here will replay for them too, with all of their defining particularities determining where value can be created. I am going to discuss business expandability and scalability in terms of innovation and change per se, and in terms of openness and flexibility to change – and on identifying the right change to expend resources into. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Startups and Early Stage Businesses. You can also find related material at Business Strategy and Operations and at its continuation page: Business Strategy and Operations – 2. You can also find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its continuation page.

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