Sunday, October 07, 2007

Disruptive Forces: Technology (the internet) and People

The disruptive technology is simply what I call the world’s internet. A few years back, the internet was basically viewed as just another tool for business, communication and entertainment. Most organizations probably just put up a website that displayed minimal corporate information. The internet was perceived to hold so much potential but most did not attach extraordinary importance to maximising its potential at that time.

Today, the internet has truly become the world’s internet. The 21st century is right here and the world has become a totally different place. Globalization (amongst other forces) has now distinguished the internet as the unrivalled platform for conducting any sort of business activity ranging from those of SMEs to multinationals.
The virtual world is fast adopting all the characteristics of the traditional real world and in a few decades, what is referred to as the virtual world at present may hold more significance than the traditional real world. The Matrix after all may prove to be more than just an imaginary concept and a figment of the wachowski brothers’ imagination.

Second Life
is a rapidly expanding virtual community that provides an online society within a 3D world, where users can explore, build, socialize and participate in their own economy. A downloadable client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called "Residents", to interact with each other through motional avatars, providing an advanced level of a social network service. Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade items (virtual property) and services from one another. Second Life's virtual currency is the Linden Dollar (Linden, or L$) and is exchangeable for US Dollars in a marketplace consisting of residents, Linden Lab and real life companies.

For businesses of whatever size, technology has become an absolutely indispensable tool. In-fact, a comprehensive IT strategy that makes adequate provisions for enterprise-wide knowledge management, performance improvement, process abstractions amongst others is imperative for corporations today and is viewed as a pre-requisite for survival in today’s acutely competitive global business environment. Peter Cohan (one of the world’s top technology strategists) said ‘the few firms that persist and ultimately achieve integrated transactions are more likely to enjoy a sustainable advantage over those that give up’.

Facebook, Google, Yahoo, MySpace and Microsoft are living examples of multi-million, perhaps billion dollar companies whose focus has been on people and Technology. The Foreign Exchange Market is another example of an industry that has so expanded as a result of these twin concepts. Current global daily transactions are upwards of $4 trillion daily!…providing market liquidity and accessibility levels never before experienced. Companies like Currenex have made this possible by connecting over 70 global banks to their state-of-the-art currency exchange engine. This has made Currency speculation a business the average citizen can engage in (though Peter Bain, a foremost trading tutor warns that forex-trading isn’t for the faint at heart but involves serious study, commitment, perseverance and development of a personal trading strategy).

Technology by itself is incapable of repositioning most organizations for high profitability. We live in times of knowledge proliferation and corporations are increasingly recognising the indispensability of the human resource. Warren Bennis remarked in Business Minds that “intellectual capital has supplanted capital as the critical success factor”.
The wealth of today’s organization is resident in its people. The expectations from today’s leaders are therefore totally different from what they used to be.

For those that want to remain relevant, and perhaps maintain relevance, recognition of and exploitation of these core duo resources (i'm not talking about intel processors here) remain central. People and Technology constitute the initial steps to achieving sustainable success, and realizing market dominance in the case of businesses.

It's no more an option for businesses, institutions, governments or individuals. You've got to embrace People and Technology now!