Business or Technology
When I was a kid, I had the impression dealing with technology was for cool and smart people and dealing with business was for ….. well, let’s say rich people. I guess I wanted dealing with technology to be more important.
Perhaps you have had similar thought at some point, now I am old enough to understand “that assumption” was not such a smart assumption … “. During my professional work, I have focused extensively on exploring and developing technologies both in IT and telecom. During last decade tough, I expanded my interest to include business and to find the business value of innovative technologies. I understood the real quest is: Technology Evolution for lasting impacts on society and economy through innovative offerings.
Then being an engineer I wanted to know the logical relation between technology and business. I wanted to know: Is it chicken first or egg first, is it a business need first or technology development first.
Business or Technology
What about you, do you think Technology comes first or Business need comes first? Maybe Chicken and egg is not such a bad analogy after all, the same way chicken carries the egg, egg also carries the chicken or at least the potential of becoming a chicken. Business and technology are not really separate and standalone entities. Each of them have another set of relations, for example behind technology there is science, and major advances of science normally are through discoveries and rooted in nature. Think about integrated circuits, VLSI the origin of processing units all based in chemistry and physics.
That is the explicit relation, but also implicitly, the nature inspires us to build technology components, control systems, feedback loops, self-healing, self organised systems, micro systems, which are all inspired by nature and even how the human body functions.
Business, even in its simplest form, obviously happens in a society, impacted by overall economy engine and regulations among others. When we look a little closer at the business, we need to reflect on: "What does it take to make a sustainable profitable and compelling business that drives the requirement on technology or take advantages of innovative technologies? ...."
For any business big or small, normally there is some type of offering, could be a specific product or a service, and there is the process of creation and delivery of that offering. Any business must have a business model describing how the business owner is going to create and deliver values. The business model also describes the product and service, the market and economic engine that allows it to achieve its profitability and growth objectives. For the offering itself, there is the question of value creation: how this offering creates value to the end user. Whether it is a pulse-meter, a computing infrastructure or a bike, clothes or food.
The business also needs to have a profit model to be able to exist. It refers to sources of revenue, cost structure, and key drivers of profitability
Beside business owner, there are more players, as it is not a lonely game, from partner to suppliers to solution providers to customers, you create a value chain together. For example if you consider a datacenter, there is one running the DC, one providing cooling system, one providing, electricity, and so on. Who are the customers, who are the competitors, who are the partners and where are you are standing in the value chain are important components of the business model.
An element of the successful and sustainable innovative businesses has been what is so called “network effect”, a healthy cycle of market growth. For example consider the platform you provide for developing apps. The more app developer use the same platform, the more choices for users and the more users, the more attractive platform for app developers to invest in, and the cycle continues.
On the other side of the sphere we have processes, “who is it going to create the offering”, "where is it developed", "how is it developed" and "to whom are you selling your offerings".
On Demand Fashion
Looking at IT and computing (HW, SW, and communication), there are obviously offerings (infrastructure, software) and then the process of creation and delivery of these components. If customer engagement and the business logic is “on-demand” and “pay-per use”, we have the notion of cloud which is not only limited to the IT and communication industry, but also other contexts such as hotel rooms.
I have even heard about Fashion on Demand, a clothes store could implement the concept of fashion on demand. In this model from when the customer express as interest when he /she walks into the store till when that fashion is offered, it is very short time, which is in fact accelerated innovation cycle.
This process is as follows: Instead of traditional sequence of "design, source, store, customer", the sequence starts with customer, store, then design and then source
which is in fact a shift from product innovation to process innovation
This fast accelerated innovation cycle would require different technologies in place from ordering, digital design, to automated delivery and hence creating a set of new technology and automated system requirements
The dependency of technology and business is more than we normally reflect on when we are super excited about exploring more and newer technology components. Allowing business and process innovation and getting technical and business process experts to team up creates opportunity for more creative business and in turn it can actually create much more technical requirements that push the state of the art technology advancement and thus faster cycle of catching the fruit of technology developments.