Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Technology as the tide that raises all boats 10 – but often unevenly 7

Posted in outsourcing and globalization, reexamining the fundamentals, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 28, 2017

This is my 10th installment to a discussion that I initially began as a single stand-alone posting in April, 2012, but that needs reconsidering. I focused in that posting, on a key issue that enters into a determination of how and when change rises to a level of significance so as to qualify as true innovation (see Outsourcing and Globalization, postings 25 and loosely following for Parts 1-9, and Part 1 of that in particular as the foundational urtext for this narrative.)

I focused in Part 9 of this, on the impact of globalization on innovation, as inexpensive and readily available ubiquitously connecting anywhere-to-anywhere communications and information sharing have broken down so many of the barriers between what were once separate marketplaces and buyer communities.

And in the course of discussing that perspective, I at least briefly made note of how this has contributed to a speeding up of innovation and its emergence in the marketplace as new product and service offerings arise and can find viable niche markets. And I added in that context that a speeding up of the pace of innovation and of what is now becoming available, is pressuring everyone to shift towards more rapid acceptance of change, foreshortening the innovation acceptance diffusion curve and challenging and even threatening those who would normally fit towards the late and last adaptor end of the curve. Quite simply, late and last adaptor now means falling further behind the more median acceptance rate norm than it used to, and even much further behind for the extreme late end of the new technology diffusion acceptance curve.

As a point of perspective, even if an imperfect one, I would compare this emerging trend to the still-wide digital divide that separates new and emerging technology have and have-not communities. But the divide that I write of here, is not one where new and next are access-restricted and regardless of desire to actively participate in and use new and emerging technologies with the empowerment that they could bring. This divide is one where new and next are increasingly, seemingly forced on everyone and whether they are prepared for it or not.

I cite the digital divide here, as usually depicted in an international, have and have-not nation context, for a reason. In practice, have-not communities and left-behind ones can be found in even the more technologically advanced have-oriented, developed nations and certainly when you consider communities that were built up around what have become obsolete technologies and that have suffered economically as a result. Consider the so called rust belt communities of the United States and the old coal mining communities in states such as West Virginia. The two divides that I write of here, can and do go hand in hand in many places, where a combination of lack of access, and fear of further change can create a truly toxic synergy.

To put that more general observation, in the specific perspective of a still in-the-news context that is playing out in the United States as I write this:

• How much of the “conservative” and “ultra-conservative” versus “liberal” and “progressive” debate, and even conflict that we now see, actually reflects a division in how different demographics can or cannot readily accommodate change, and a steady barrage of it and from seemingly all directions, all the time? Remember how one of the clarion calls of disaffection of Donald Trump’s followers is their yearning to return to simpler times and to the way things used to be – when the world was more familiar and less disruptively changing.

I wrote in Part 9 of the pressures of rapid innovative change in what is offered in the marketplace, and the pressures that this places on consumers to accept and adapt and to change too, and both as individuals and as members of communities. I counter that here with a matching discussion of pushback and even overt resistance to that demand for change, that can be in part shaped by availability of New but that is even more driven by resistance to being changed, and certainly where that would be viewed as being coerced.

I wrote Part 9 in terms of balances between competing forces and drives, and I continue that same basic narrative approach here. The marketplace and its participants always face competing pressures and demands, and competing needs. This means they are always facing dynamic balances of competing forces and both around them and within them as they make their purchasing and usage decisions. And this brings me to a fundamental point that underlies much if not all of this series and its progression of discussion and analysis: the phenomenon of friction in all of this, as it shapes both the rate and direction in which these dynamic balances of forces play out.

I will discuss friction as I use that term here, in my next series installment, where I will consider both cultural and socioeconomic impact as innovative change and the opportunity for it advances all around us. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. I also include this in Outsourcing and Globalization – and see that directory for related material. And I include a link to this posting as a supplemental addition to Section VII: Reexamining Business School Fundamentals (reconsidered), of Reexamining the Fundamentals too.

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